Peace and Harmony Committee Chairman and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha
Peace and Harmony Committee Chairman and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha

A Delhi Assembly panel decided on Tuesday to issue a "final notice" to Facebook after no representative appeared before the committee that is hearing allegations against the social media giant.

During proceedings, Peace and Harmony Committee Chairman and AAP MLA Raghav Chadha said non-appearance of any Facebook representative before the panel was not only "contempt" of Assembly, but also an "insult" of the 2 crore people of Delhi.

The panel had issued a notice to Facebook India vice president and managing director Ajit Mohan last week, asking him to appear before it on September 15 in connection with complaints about the social media giant's alleged deliberate inaction to curb hateful content in the country.

"We had summoned Facebook India VP & MD Ajit Mohan over its role in Delhi riots. In reply, Facebook has asked to withdraw summon as 'regulation of intermediaries like Facebook falls within exclusive authority of GOI'," Chadha said.

"Facebook's letter is in disregard of committee's privilege. Facebook's refusal to appear before the committee is an attempt to conceal crucial facts in relation to its role in Delhi riots. Fresh summons will be issued to it in line with principles of natural justice," he added.

The Facebook lawyer, in a reply to the committee's notice, said the matter was under consideration of the Parliament, which is "untenable", Chadha said. "The failure of Facebook to appear before the committee shows that it is trying to hide its role in the Delhi riots."

After consulting other members of the committee, Chadha decided to issue a final notice to Facebook.

"As per principle of natural justice, we should give a last chance to Facebook vice president and managing director to appear before the committee. Still, if he does not come, the committee will not desist from using all its powers including coercive steps," he said.

The hearing by the assembly panel follows a Wall Street Journal report that claimed that one of Facebook's senior India policy executives intervened in internal communication to stop a permanent ban on a BJP lawmaker from Telangana after he allegedly shared communally-charged posts.

Last month, Facebook had said its social media platform prohibits hate speech and content that incites violence, and these policies were enforced globally without regard to political affiliation.

"While we know there is more to do, we're making progress on enforcement and conduct regular audits of our process to ensure fairness and accuracy," a Facebook spokesperson had said.

(With PTI inputs)

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