The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a plea filed by Facebook India vice-president Ajit Mohan challenging the summons issued by the Delhi Assembly’s peace committee that is probing the Delhi violence case. Following the verdict, Facebook officials will now have to appear before the committee.
However, the court also said that the social media giant cannot be forced to answer on the issues of law and order, which comes under the purview of the Union government in the national capital. Facebook officials can choose not to answer questions as they appear before the panel, the court said.
A bench comprising Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy termed Mohan’s plea as pre-mature and said nothing has happened against him before Assembly’s panel.
Notably, the social media giant had challenged last year’s September 10 and 18 notices issued by the committee that sought Mohan’s presence before the panel that is investigating Facebook’s role in the spread of the alleged hate speeches.
Assembly panel can’t act as prosecuting agency
The apex court said that the Assembly committee has the right to seek information on any matter related to peace and harmony, but cannot encroach upon the domain of the central laws.
“Delhi Assembly Panel cannot don the role of (a) prosecuting agency and direct the filing of chargesheet. The statements made by the assembly panel about making Facebook a co-accused in the chargesheet are outside the scope of the panel. The statements are hardly conducive to the fairness of the investigation,” the Supreme Court said.
“Social media platforms have the power and potential to influence people across the border. Debates on these platforms, like Facebook, have the potential to polarise the society and less informed individuals may not verify the information and take it as the gospel of truth,” the court said.
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