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Delhi Assembly summons Facebook again in connection with 2020 riots

The summons says it is a continuation of its notice sent to Facebook in Feb and refers to SC verdict on the matter in July; FB asked for names of representatives who will appear

Delhi Assembly | Facebook

Deepsekhar Choudhury  |  Bengaluru 

Photo: Bloomberg

The Committee on Peace and Harmony of has summoned to appear before it on November 2 for evidence and suggestions to prevent communal disturbances like the 2020 Delhi riots. The summons says that it is a continuation of its notice sent to in February and refers to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter in July.

A copy of the summons, reviewed by Business Standard, said that should send the names and designations of representatives who will appear by October 31.

The summons also said that failure to send a representative could lead to the initiation proceedings for breach of contempt/privilege of the Assembly.The February summons had asked for a “senior competent person” to appear and testify before it as it is conducting an inquiry into the communal violence that hit the capital in February 2020.

That notice was issued after a plea in the apex court filed by VP & MD of Facebook India Ajit Mohan, that challenged last year's September 10 and 18 notices issued by the committee that sought Mohan's presence before the panel which is probing the Delhi riots and Facebook's role in spread of the alleged hate speeches.

The plea contended that the committee lacked power to summon or hold petitioners in breach of its privileges for failing to appear and it was exceeding its Constitutional limits.

In July, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea filed by Mohan challenging the summons issued by the committee for failing to appear before it as witness in the matter.

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 Delhi Assembly's panel.

Salman Waris, partner at law firm Techlegis, said: “What has prompted this is the recent whistleblower deposition before the US Congress which has specifically highlighted what happened in Delhi riots and Facebook’s role as an intermediary in relation to selective content moderation. That has further given impetus to the Delhi govt’s stand and the SC (Supreme Court) verdict that came in July strengthened its argument on a legal basis.”

Facebook declined to comment on the matter.

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First Published: Wed, October 27 2021. 18:28 IST