New Delhi: After Facebook skipped a hearing of the Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee on Tuesday saying they have already appeared before a parliamentary panel and the subject comes under the Centre, the Delhi panel, infuriated by the response, said it would deliver a “final warning” to the social media giant over its absence.
The written response of Facebook said that its officials had already deposed before the committee of MPs earlier this month and since Parliament was seized of the matter, the Delhi Assembly committee should withdraw its summons.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA Raghav Chadha, who heads the committee, remarked that the refusal to appear before the committee on the stipulated date is an act of breach of privilege.
“The indifference exhibited by the representative of Facebook India is also a contempt to the people of Delhi who have reposed their faith in the committee to examine the current issue,” Chadha said.
Members slammed what they called “insult and contempt” of the elected Delhi Assembly by Facebook officials. Facebook’s assertion was an “erroneous reading”, the panel members said, insisting that the committee was well within its rights to summon the executives to answer serious charges linked to the Delhi riots in February.
Chadha said top Facebook official Ajit Mohan had been asked to appear and respond to allegations that Facebook was not just selective in its application of community standards but “actively fanned the flames” during the violence.
“This is an issue of Delhi, how can Facebook say that it’s not the domain of this committee? Facebook’s statement that Parliament is seized of the matter is untenable. The state legislature functions independent of Parliament. Your refusal to appear before this committee is an attempt to conceal the role (of Facebook) in the Delhi riots,” said the committee.
A member accused the company of overstepping its authority and giving an “unfortunate, vague and evasive reply”.
Chadha said fresh summons would be issued to Facebook executives in line with principles of natural justice. If they did not comply with the fresh summons, said members, they “should be forced to appear through coercive actions”.
The Delhi Assembly Committee on Peace and Harmony decided to summon Facebook officials while looking into complaints about the social media site’s alleged “deliberate and intentional inaction to contain hateful content” in India.