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Facebook India VP moves SC against Delhi Assembly summons in hate speech probe

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Facebook India’s vice-president Ajit Mohan on Tuesday moved Supreme Court against summons by Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee which is probing the social media platform’s role in inciting violence during the northeast Delhi riots earlier this year.

The Facebook India top boss filed a plea in Supreme Court after he did not depose before the Delhi Assembly panel on his first summon.

Subsequently, the committee sent Ajit Mohan a second notice to appear before it on September 23. However, now Ajit Mohan has asked for Supreme Court’s intervention in the matter.

Mohan, represented by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, has contended before the Supreme Court that he cannot be compelled to appear before the Delhi Assembly committee as the hate speech matter is already under the purview of a parliamentary panel.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari will hear the matter on Wednesday via video conferencing.

FACEBOOK INDIA UNDER DELHI GOVT LENS

The hearing by the Delhi Assembly panel started in the backdrop of a Wall Street Journal report that claimed that a senior Facebook India policy executive had intervened in internal communication to stop a permanent ban on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker from Telangana after he allegedly shared communally-charged posts on the social media platform.

The committee, headed by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Raghav Chadha had taken cognizance of the accusations against Facebook for its alleged “complicity” in the northeast Delhi riots of February on the premise of the “incriminatory material” produced on record by the witnesses as well as their depositions in its previous meetings.

Facebook India VP Ajit Mohan was first summoned by the Delhi Assembly committee on September 15 but he refused to appear. The Facebook executive skipped the meeting and said the matter was under consideration of Parliament.

Reacting to the snub, Peace and Harmony Committee Chairman and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said non-appearance of any Facebook representative before the panel was not only “contempt” of Assembly, but also an “insult” of the two crore people of Delhi.

“The failure of Facebook to appear before the committee shows that it is trying to hide its role in the Delhi riots,” he said.

On Sunday, the committee issued a final notice to Ajit Mohan to depose before the panel on September 23 and said that any defiance to the subsequent notice for appearance will be deemed to be an act of “breach of the constitutionally-guaranteed privileges” of the committee.

Earlier this month, Ajit Mohan had deposed before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology, headed by senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor over allegations of its alleged bias towards the BJP.

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