Facebook India VP moves Supreme Court against Delhi Assembly panel summoning him2 min read . Updated: 22 Sep 2020, 08:25 PM IST
- The assembly panel on peace and harmony is looking into complaints on the 'role or complicity of Facebook officials in the Delhi riots'
- In a letter to the committee, Facebook said Parliament is already looking into the issue and requested the Delhi panel to withdraw its summons
Facebook India vice-president and managing director Ajit Mohan moves Supreme Court against the summons of the Delhi Assembly Committee, which is looking into the social media giant’s alleged failure to crack down on hate speech, saying the issue falls within the exclusive domain of the Union of India.
The assembly panel on peace and harmony is looking into complaints on the “role or complicity of Facebook officials in the Delhi riots" that happened in February.
Since Facebook had refused to come on first summon, the assembly panel had to sent second summon.
On 15 September, the committee, headed by Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha, asked Facebook to ensure that company executives appear before the panel at its next meeting, warning that a refusal will lead to “breach of privilege" proceedings against the officials. “Refusing to appear before the committee is contempt of the Delhi legislative assembly. This shows Facebook has something to hide," Chadha said.
In a letter to the committee, Facebook said Parliament is already looking into the issue and requested the Delhi panel to withdraw its summons.
Given that the issues raised by the notice involve subject matter within the exclusive domain of the Union of India, and that the matters are under active consideration by Parliament, we respectfully object to the notice and request you to recall it," Facebook’s director for trust and safety, Vikram Langeh said in the letter to Chadha.
Chadha said Facebook has blatantly refused to participate, instead of using the opportunity to dispel the allegations and restoring the faith and confidence of people.
“The refusal to attend is in contempt of the powers given to the assembly under the Constitution. If an issue is under investigation in Parliament, it does not stop the Delhi assembly from looking into the issue. State legislature functions independent of Parliament. In this case, the issue is also different. The parliament committee is looking into “safeguarding citizens’ rights and prevention of misuse of social/online news media platforms, including special emphasis on women’s security in digital space". The parliament committee is not looking into any issue related to Delhi riots and Facebook’s role," Chadha said.
The petitioner while challenging the summons dated 10 and 18 September has also alleged that the summons violates the petitioner’s fundamental right under article 19 (Right to speech and expression) and Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty)guaranteed under the constitution.
Facebook submitted that it is an “intermediary" as defined under the Informational and Technology act. Adding that as an intermediary under the IT Act, Facebook is immune from liability for third-party content on the Facebook Service.
In the 169-page long petition, Facebook has sought directions for the summons order to be withdrawn and orders restraining the committee from taking any coercive actions against FB in furtherance of the summons issued.
The social media platform has faced criticism over allegations that it favours the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party-led government in India, to push its own business goals in Asia’s third-largest economy.