Delhi riots: SC rejects Facebook India VP Ajit Mohan plea against summons issued by Assembly committee

The Supreme Court Thursday refused to stay the summons by the Delhi Assembly panel to Facebook India Managing Director Ajit Mohan over the Delhi riots case, PTI reported.

Calling the challenge by the Facebook head “premature”, a bench comprising of Justice SK Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy stated that while he must appear before the Peace and Harmony committee, any representative of the petitioner can choose not to answer questions outside of the Assembly’s domain.

The bench said that the committee, however, “cannot don the role of a prosecuting agency.” It laid emphasis on the transparency of the proceedings, and said that the Peace and Harmony committee would have no jurisdiction over many issues, including the law and order of Delhi, which comes under the Central government.

“Because of the nature of the riots, the Assembly without transgressing into any field of the Union under 7 Schedule can look into the issue,” the court said.

The bench also took exception to certain statements made by the Committee in its press conference against Facebook. “Statements made by the Committee about making Facebook the co-accused in the chargesheet are outside the scope of the Committee,” it said.

Mohan had approached the apex court challenging the September 10 and September 18 notices issued by Delhi Assembly’s peace and harmony committee that sought his presence before the panel. Last year, Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Mohan, had said the Committee cannot force him to appear. “If I don’t appear, I can’t be compelled to face penalities for that,” he said, adding that the “right to free speech under Article 19(1)(a) includes the right not to speak”. Salve said forcing Mohan to appear before the House panel with a threat of penalty is a violation of his fundamental right to free speech.

With inputs from agencies, Live Law

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