India

"Expansion Of Power Through Backdoor": Facebook Boss On Delhi Summons

Facebook India MD said the Delhi assembly cannot examine his company's role in the Delhi riots.

New Delhi:

Fending off summons by the Delhi assembly over an investigation into last year's riots in the city, Facebook India Vice President and MD Ajit Mohan Wednesday told the Supreme Court that the "right to silence" is a virtue in present "noisy times" and the legislature had no authority to examine him in a law and order case.

The court reserved its verdict after lawyers representing Facebook official, Delhi assembly and the centre wrapped up submissions on the plea of Mr Mohan challenging summons issued by the 'Peace and Harmony committee' of the Delhi assembly for failing to appear before it as a witness in connection with the riots.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Facebook official, said setting up of the panel was not the core function of the Delhi assembly as the law and order issue fell under the domain of the centre in the national capital.

"There are two broad silos, one is existence of powers in compulsion of appearance and second is competence. I will submit that they (Delhi assembly) are wrong on both," the senior lawyer said.

During the proceedings held through video-conferencing, Mr Salve said these kinds of "expansion of power through the backdoor" should not be allowed and "in the noisy times of the present, right to silence is a virtue. And leave it to me to decide, whether or not I want to go".

Earlier, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the panel of the assembly, had said that the assembly did have the power to summon.

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However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had opposed the submission of the panel of the assembly saying that the law and order squarely fell under the domain of the Delhi police which is accountable to the central government.

Earlier in December, the Peace and Harmony committee had moved the top court seeking to intervene in the plea filed by the Facebook Vice President and MD.

On October 15, last year, the centre had told the court that proceedings of the Peace and Harmony committee are "without jurisdiction" as the issue was about law and order.

It had said that "public order and police are not within the domain of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and therefore this proceeding is without jurisdiction."