The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed the Department of Information Technology to submit the papers on sanction for prosecution of Google India and social networking site Facebook for allegedly hosting objectionable contents.

Justice Suresh Kait passed the order when Google India counsel said the Union government had no locus to interfere in the matter as it was a complaint case.

Countering the argument, counsel for the Delhi Police said the investigating agency submitted a report to the lower court which had asked for it. The Department of Information Technology had also given sanction for prosecution of the sites, including Google India, saying it was a fit case for initiating proceedings. Thereupon, Justice Kait asked the Department to submit papers relating to the sanction for prosecution on February 15.

On December 23 last, the trial court summoned representatives of as many as 21 networking sites, taking cognisance of the private criminal complaint.

“It appears from a bare perusal of documents that prima facie the accused in connivance with each other and other unknown persons are selling, publicly exhibiting and have put into circulation obscene, lascivious content,” the court order said.

The complaint has been filed under Sections 292 (sale of obscene books, etc), 293 (sale of obscene objects to young person, etc) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

The magistrate noted that the material submitted by the complainant, journalist Vinay Rai, had derogatory articles pertaining to Prophet Muhammad, Jesus Christ and various Hindu gods and goddesses.