SC Upheld Authority of Delhi’s Peace and Harmony Committee
Part of: GS Prelims and GS -II – Judiciary
In news Recently, the Supreme Court (SC) upheld the authority of Delhi Legislative Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee to summon Facebook India’s senior official in connection with the February 2020 communal violence.
What is Central Government’s and Facebook’s Claim?
- The formation of the Peace and Harmony committee was not within the authority of the Delhi Legislative Assembly as law and order and police of Delhi is a central subject.
What was Delhi Government’s Justification?
- The Delhi Assembly had relied on various entries in the state list and concurrent list, by which the Delhi Assembly derived its power to discuss and debate on the issue in question.
- It cited entry 1 in the state list dealing with public order, which is distinct from law and order and entry 1 in concurrent list which gives sweeping power to state assemblies to legislate on the subject ‘criminal law’.
- Entry 39 in the state list that gave assemblies power to enforce the attendance of witnesses for the purpose of recording statements was also relied upon.
What is SC’s recent Ruling?
- Rejected Facebook’s abstention:
- Rejected the simplistic approach adopted by Facebook — that it is merely a platform posting third-party information and has no role in generating, controlling or modulating that information.
- Facebook cannot claim any “exceptional privilege” to abstain from appearing before the Peace Harmony Committee constituted by the Delhi Assembly.
What are the Committee’s Competence/Powers?
- An “informed deliberation” by the Assembly’s elected representatives on the best measures to combat online mass hate and violence in their geographical jurisdiction was very much within the Committee’s competence.
- However Facebook representatives appearing before the Committee need not answer any query from the Committee directly regarding law, order and the police, which are subjects on which the Delhi Assembly cannot legislate.
News Source: TH