Delhi Assembly Summons Facebook Again Over 2020 Delhi Riots

The committee will focus on Facebook's role in curbing false and malicious messages that could cause disharmony in the society

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The Delhi Assembly's Committee on Peace and Harmony has called representatives from Facebook India to appear on November 2 on the social media giant's role in the national capital's riots in February 2020.

The committee stated in a letter to the social media giant that it will focus on the social media giant's role in preventing misleading and malicious information from causing societal unrest. “Since Facebook has lakhs of users in the NCT of Delhi, the Committee has decided to hear the views of representative(s) of Facebook India.”

The letter also noted that various persons including journalists, former bureaucrats and community leaders have appeared before the Committee to offer their evidence and suggestions. “The Committee has observed and is of the opinion that social media has a very important role in curbing the spread of false, provocative and malicious messages, which can fan the violence and disharmony.”

The committee has requested that the social media business send qualified senior representatives who are familiar with the situation. Due to the Covid-19 scenario, it has also suggested that Facebook limit the number of representatives to a bare minimum.

“The failure to send a representative will lead to initiation of proceedings for breach of privilege/contempt of the Assembly,” the letter added.

In June, the Supreme Court had rejected an appeal filed by Facebook India MD Ajit Mohan against a Delhi Assembly panel's summons to him in the 2020 Delhi riots case. Mohan had moved SC seeking stay on the summons issued by Delhi Assembly's Peace and Harmony committee.

A bench consisting of Justice SK Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy had called the challenge by the Facebook India chief as 'premature'. The bench had also asked him to appear before the Peace and Harmony committee. It also said that any representative of Facebook can choose not to answer questions outside the Assembly’s domain.

The bench had  also noted that the committee cannot don the role of a prosecuting agency. It further stated that the committee would have no jurisdiction over issues like 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 bench had said.

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