Ajit Mohan Facebook
Ajit Mohan Facebook

A Delhi Assembly panel on Wednesday assured the Supreme Court that no coercive step is intended against Facebook India Vice President Ajit Mohan, who has moved the apex court, questioning its powers to summon him.

Mohan's plea questioning the notice summoning him before the panel asked: "Whether the privileges of Respondent No. 1, the Legislative Assembly of the NCT of Delhi, include the power to compel the appearance of non-members before Respondent No. 1 to express their views or subject them to examination?"

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the Assembly's Peace and Harmony Committee, submitted before a bench, headed by Justice Sanjay Kishen Kaul, that it only wanted suggestions from Facebook's India chief on how its misuse can be stopped. Mohan is only being summoned as a witness, he said.

To this, Justice Kaul said: "This is not what you have said in the notice. You have advised them (Delhi government), advise them better and issue better notice."

As Singhvi said he will rectify the order and address the deficiencies that are bothering the bench, Justice Kaul said that he would be able to remedy the notice, but cited the press conference by the panel where strong observations were made on Facebook.

"If you (the panel) have said those things, then you will have to take a stand," he said.

Singhvi submitted before the top court that it is not proper for the court to stay the proceedings against Facebook but assured the court that no further proceedings to summon Mohan will take till the top court decides the issue.

The bench, also comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Krishna Murari, issued notice to the Delhi and Central governments, the Delhi Police, the Lok Sabha, and the Rajya Sabha. The top court said the counter-affidavit should be filed in a week and a rejoinder within three days.

The next hearing on the matter will take place on October 15.

The bench took adverse note of summons issued to the Facebook India VP by Delhi Assembly panel headed by Raghav Chadha. The panel has deferred the hearing which was scheduled on Wednesday.

On Sunday, the Delhi Assembly panel served a fresh notice to Mohan to appear before it on September 23, after no representative from the social media company appeared before the committee earlier to clarify allegations of "deliberate inaction on the part of (the) social media platform to apply hate speech rules".

Earlier in the month, the panel had issued the first notice to Facebook India head and sought his presence before it.