The right to remain silent is a virtue in these noisy times, Facebook India vice president and MD Ajit Mohan told the Supreme Court on Wednesday while saying the Delhi assembly lacks the legislative power to put set up a panel to examine the issue of peace and harmony.
A bench of judges SK Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari and Hrishikesh Roy reserved their verdict after lawyers representing a Facebook official, the Delhi assembly and the Center completed their submissions on Mohan’s plea challenging the summons issued by the committee Peace and Harmony for failing to appear before him as a witness about the riots in northeast Delhi.
Senior lawyer Harish Salve, appearing for a Facebook official, said setting up the peace panel was not the primary function of the Delhi assembly as the issue of law and order fell of the Domaine du Center in the national capital.
There are two big silos, one is the existence of powers by appearance constraint and the other is competence. I will argue that they (the Delhi assembly) are wrong on both, said lead counsel.
During the proceedings held by videoconference, Salve said this kind of backdoor expansion of power should not be allowed and that in the noisy times of the present, the right to silence is a virtue. And let me decide if I want to go or not.
Earlier, lead lawyer AM Singhvi, representing the assembly panel, said the assembly had the power to convene.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta objected to the assembly panel’s submission saying law and order was squarely in the hands of the Delhi Police who are accountable to the central government.
Earlier in December, the Peace and Harmony committee asked the superior court to intervene in the plea filed by the vice president of Facebook and MD.
On October 15 of last year, the Center told the judiciary that the deliberations of the Peace and Harmony Committee were not competent because the matter was a matter of public order.
He said that “law and order and the police are not the responsibility of the Delhi Legislative Assembly and therefore this procedure is without jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court had said its Sept. 23 order asking the assembly panel not to take any coercive action against Mohan, would continue until further notice.
The plea filed by Mohan, Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd and Facebook Inc argued that the committee did not have the power to summon or detain petitioners in violation of its privileges not to appear and that it exceeded its constitutional limits. .
They took issue with the September 10-18 notices issued by the committee requesting Mohan’s presence at the panel investigating the Delhi riots in February and FB’s role in spreading alleged hate speech.
The Delhi Assembly had said that no coercive action had been taken against Mohan and that he had only been summoned by his Committee for Peace and Harmony to appear as a witness to the riots in the north. east of Delhi.
Previously, lead lawyer AM Singhvi, appearing for the Delhi Legislative Assembly, said that Mohan was called as a witness only.
In an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, the Delhi Assembly said that Mohan had not received any summons for breach of privilege.
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