Washington has cited free speech principles, MHA tells court

The Ministry of Home Affairs told a court here on Friday that the U.S. authorities were unable to “execute” the request for assistance in serving summons on 11 U.S.-based websites, including Facebook and Google, which were accused of hosting objectionable content promoting class enmity and undermining national integrity.

The MHA told metropolitan magistrate Jay Thareja that it had received a communication dated March 20 from the U.S. Department of Justice which said it could not help. “Pursuant to the treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in criminal matters between the United States and India, we regret to inform you that we will not be able to execute this request for assistance .... as the request implicates free speech principles that are protected by the U.S. Constitution and are considered essential interests,” the letter said.

The court on January 8 issued fresh summonses to the websites, which had been arraigned in a complaint filed by Vinay Rai, and directed the MHA to do the needful.

The court fixed the next hearing for May 21.

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