Riots: SC to hear plea by Assembly panel over FB official summons

The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to examine an intervention application filed by the chairman of the Peace and Harmony Committee of the Delhi Assembly, in connection with its powers to summon Facebook officials to testify as “witnesses” before it on the circumstances which led to the Delhi riots in February.

The intervention has come at a time when a Bench led by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul is about to consider the competency of the Delhi Assembly to constitute such a fact-finding committee. The Bench had also decided to look into the jurisdiction of the committee to summon Facebook officials.

Appearing for Facebook and its vice-president Ajit Mohan, who had come to court against the committee’s summons, senior advocate Harish Salve said the intervention application nudges a “lot of issues will rise on the committee’s standing”. Mr. Salve said the application even claims the committee has an “independent existence as a juridical entity”.

Mr. Mohan has accused the Assembly of threatening him with “breach of privilege” if he did not appear before the committee and testify. His lawyers said the committee had no authority to compel him to testify. He claimed his right of silence.

In the previous hearing, the Centre too had told the Supreme Court that, prima facie, the Delhi Assembly had no jurisdiction to summon Mr. Mohan to testify as the police and public order in the Capital are not within its domain.

Senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for the Assembly, had explained that Mr. Mohan was called as an expert to put forth “constructive suggestions” in order to prevent such incidents from happening due to the indiscriminate use of social media platforms. He had said the committee’s role was to make “positive recommendations”. There was no coercive action intended against Mr. Mohan.

The court scheduled a hearing in January.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2021 9:24:38 PM |

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