The Delhi Assembly Peace and Harmony Committee, which is looking into the role of several factors in the Northeast Delhi riots, has summoned Facebook India vice-president and managing director Ajit Mohan again on September 23.
This is the second time that Mohan was summoned as he did not appear before the panel, headed by MLA Raghav Chadha, previously. Failure to appear, the notice said, will be counted as breach of privilege of the committee and action will be taken.
The committee, formed on March 2, earlier said it had “prima facie found Facebook complicit in the Delhi riots of February 2020 on the premise of incriminatory material produced on record by the witnesses as well as their scathing depositions before the Committee”.
Facebook’s trust and safety director Vikram Langeh sent a letter to Chadha last week, objecting to the notice and asked that it be recalled. He had said that regulation of intermediaries such as Facebook was the right of the Union government, that the Parliament’s Standing Committee on Information Technology was already examining the issues raised, and that law and order in Delhi comes under the purview of the Centre and not the state government.
The fresh summons were sent to Mohan on Friday. Facebook spokesperson did not respond to calls or messages.
A statement issued by the committee Sunday said, “It appeared to the committee that Facebook is deliberately and intentionally trying to evade the process of law as well as showing absolute non-cooperation in enabling the committee to ascertain the genuineness of the allegation put out against it. He (Chadha) had insisted that Facebook must honour the proceedings taking place under Delhi’s state legislature in the same manner as they did for a parliamentary standing committee.”
The assembly committee said that as per a 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court Constitution Bench, the Delhi Legislative Assembly has legislative powers, and the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Legislative Assembly provides the committee powers to summon and ensure the presence of witnesses.
“It has been further decided that in the event of subsequent default in complying with the orders of the committee, it shall be constrained to proceed against Facebook India for committing breach of committee’s privilege, which shall follow consequent penal jurisdiction of the house under the relevant laws and rules and regulation,” the statement said.
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