Delhi Assembly panel chairman Chadha welcomes SC dismissing FB India VP's plea against its summons

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New Delhi, July 8 (PTI) The Delhi Assembly's Peace and Harmony Committee Chairman Raghav Chadha on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court dismissing Facebook India official Ajit Mohan's plea challenging the summons by the panel, and said proceedings of the committee will continue after studying the decision.

The committee had issued the summons to Facebook India Vice President and MD Ajit Mohan for failing to appear before it as a witness in connection with last year's northeast Delhi riots.

A bench headed by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul on Thursday termed Mohan's plea as pre-mature saying nothing has happened against him before the Assembly panel.

The top court said the option of not answering before the committee cannot be disputed and the representative of the petitioner can deny answering the question if it falls within the prohibited domains.

Reacting to the apex court's decision, Chadha, in a statement, said, 'The Supreme Court, while dismissing the petition... recognised that the privileges and power of the Delhi Legislative Assembly's Committees are on par with Parliamentary privileges and those of other Legislative Assemblies.' 'Significantly, the court has also reaffirmed that as part of these privileges the Committee of Peace and Harmony is entitled to summon 'non-members' to appear before itself in order to assist it in matters of governance that lie within its remit and terms of reference,' he said.

The SC opined that since no coercive action has been taken against Mohan and the notice issued to him was to seek his assistance in examining larger social issues concerning the wellbeing of the citizens, therefore 'any representative of Facebook India must appear before the committee', Chadha said.

'The full copy of the judgement is awaited. We will study the judgment and shall thereafter continue the proceedings in terms thereof,' he said.

The peace and harmony committee, like other legislative panels of the Assembly, is keen on continuing a genuine 'deliberative' process on issues of concern in Delhi with the full participation of all concerned, Chadha said.

The Supreme Court delivered its verdict on the plea filed by Mohan, Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd and Facebook Inc which contended that the committee lacked the power to summon or hold petitioners in breach of privileges for failing to appear before it and had exceeded its constitutional limits.

The petitioners had challenged last year's September 10 and 18 notices issued by the committee which sought Mohan's presence before the panel probing the Delhi riots and Facebook's role in the spread of alleged hate speeches.

In October 2020, the Centre had told the top court that proceedings of the Peace and Harmony committee are without jurisdiction as the issue pertained to law and order that squarely fell under the domain of Delhi Police which is accountable to the Central government. PTI VIT NSD NSD

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