Delhi Assembly summons Facebook again in connection with 2020 riots

New Delhi : The Committee on Peace and Harmony of Delhi Assembly has summoned Facebook 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 Facebook in February and refers to the Supreme Court’s verdict on the matter in July.

According to the summons ‘Facebook 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 national 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.”