IT, social media issues our concern, Centre tells Supreme Court

Concerns about information technology and law relating to social media intermediaries fall within the domain of Parliament and the Central government. The Delhi Assembly, or for that matter, any State Assembly, has no jurisdiction over such issues, the Centre told the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

The Centre, through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, was making its submissions in a plea filed by senior Facebook official Ajit Mohan, who has questioned the role and jurisdiction of the Delhi Legislative Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee to compel him to testify before it in connection with the Delhi riots or face breach of privilege action.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice S.K. Kaul, Mr. Mehta said the States should not interfere with issues that do not come within their domain under the garb of cooperative federalism. “Cooperative federalism was used in a different context. It does not empower States to go into areas which are in Union List,” he submitted.

Joining inquiry

Justice Kaul, however, said the issue in the case was whether Facebook could be compelled to join an inquiry.

Mr. Mohan has argued before the Supreme Court that he was well within his rights to remain silent and not be compelled by the Peace and Harmony Committee to be part of a “politically polarised debate” on the riots.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, for Mr. Mohan, had submitted that his client cannot be compelled to appear before the committee even if he is exempted from taking oath. He had also flagged his concerns about the mandate of the committee, which include recommending action against persons against whom incriminating evidence for incitement of violence was prima facie found.

He had also argued that the Information Technology Act already dealt with hate content on Internet.

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