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Delhi Riots- Supreme Court Reserves Judgment In Facebook VP Ajit Mohan's Plea Challenging Delhi Assembly Summons

Nupur Thapliyal
24 Feb 2021 11:58 AM GMT
Delhi Riots- Supreme Court Reserves Judgment In Facebook VP Ajit Mohans Plea Challenging Delhi Assembly Summons
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"In the noisy times of the present, right to silence is a virtue. And leave it to me to decide, whether or not I want to go and lay down that the summon is an invitation and no more." Salve concludes as Supreme Court reserves judgment in the plea.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment in the challenge made by Facebook India Vice President Ajit Mohan to the summons issued by the Delhi Assembly Committee to enquire into Delhi riots. A bench comprising of Justice S.K. Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy will deliver the judgment. Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of Mr. Ajit Mohan, concluded his...

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The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment in the challenge made by Facebook India Vice President Ajit Mohan to the summons issued by the Delhi Assembly Committee to enquire into Delhi riots.

A bench comprising of Justice S.K. Kaul, Justice Dinesh Maheshwari and Justice Hrishikesh Roy will deliver the judgment.

Harish Salve, appearing on behalf of Mr. Ajit Mohan, concluded his counter arguments today.

Main thrust of Salve's arguments rested on the contention that it was not the "core function" of the Delhi Legislative to constitute a Committee examining issue of peace and harmony when there is no legislative power rested with the Assembly to deal with the issue.

"There are two broad silos, one is existence of powers in compulsion of appearance and second is competence. I will submit that they are wrong on both." Salve submitted.

Coming to the stand taken by the Delhi Assembly and Committee in Peace and Harmony, Salve submitted that the two had spoken before the bench in "two voices".

Salve submitted "They are saying nothing has changed. This convenient divide is something I would respect from a constitutional court to look into. On matters like to taken divergent stands, please do not miss the significance."

It was also submitted that the substituted notice issued by the Committee does not make any difference in the position as contemplated by the earlier notices. Commenting on the duality of the arguments, Salve argued "See the headiness today in the committee. It reeks of constitutional arrogance. Look at the arrogance in the arguments of the Committee. If they are right, they are right. Then we must know these are the kinds of monsters we have created."

Further submissions advanced by Mr. Salve rested on the contentions of right to silence and Committee's power to compel appearance of third parties by summoning them.

According to Salve, where an area is within the legislative competence of Union Parliament, a State Assembly could not legislate on such area owing to the doctrine of "incidental encroachment."

"By the doctrine of incidental encroachment, if there is encroachment or overlap, the law of parliament prevails. This is called the dynamics of encroachment." Salve submitted.

Salve also vehemently refuted the submission made by Dr. Singhvi that entry 39 of List 2 and GNCTD Act of 1991 when read conjointly with other entries of List 2 will show that the Delhi Assembly has the powers to deal with subjects which are otherwise excluded under Art. 239AA.

"What is the power of summoning? I want to get Entry 39 out of the way. It has no role to play in the context of Delhi Assembly. I don't know how this was even read. This is not a legislative assembly. Much as they want to be a constitutional power, they are not." Salve submitted.

Concluding his submissions, Salve submitted that working for an American Corporation i.e. Facebook, the Committee cannot compel Mr. Mohan to appear in order to give evidence.

"Evidence by its definition is factual. And when you call somebody to give evidence, you are calling to find out what happened. The views are not evidence. The law of evidence prohibits evidence of the opinion of a witness except an expert witness." Salve argued.

Furthermore, Salve closed his submissions in the following words:

"If you want my views, I don't want to talk about peace and harmony in India. Today it may be Facebook, tomorrow it will be somebody else but there has to be a law laid down by your lordships. Please do not permit this kind of expansion of powers through the backdoor and please protect citizens' rights and particularly right to silence. In the noisy times of the present, right to silence is a virtue. And leave it to me to decide, whether or not I want to go and lay down that the summon is an invitation and no more." Salve concluded.


Previous Reports can be read here:

Facebook Vs Delhi Assembly- State Assemblies Cannot Deal With Issues Demanding National Response: Centre Tells Supreme Court

'Hate Speech And Disinformation On Facebook A Global Concern' : Dhavan Defends Delhi Assembly Summons To FB Vice President

'Peace & Harmony Cannot Be Equated With Public Order' : Dhavan Defends Delhi Assembly Summons To Facebook VP

Facebook Cannot Invoke Article 32; Ajit Mohan's Rights Not Violated : Delhi Assembly Tells Supreme Court

Delhi Assembly Competent To Discuss Delhi's Peace & Harmony : Singhvi Defends Summons To Facebook VP

Any "Senior, Responsible Officer" From Facebook Can Appear Before Delhi Legislative Assembly: Dr. Abhishek Singhvi Clarifies Before Supreme Court

Delhi House Panel Cannot Deal With 'Law And Order' As It Is Union's Subject : Salve Submits For Facebook VP

Delhi Assembly Lacks Competence To Summon Facebook For Enquiry Into Delhi Riots : Datar In Supreme Court

House Privileges Not Applicable To Activities Other Than Legislative Functions : Salve Submits For Facebook VP

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