Facebook executives today skipped a hearing of the Delhi Assembly's "Peace and Harmony" committee saying they have already appeared before a parliamentary panel. The panel, stung by the response, said it would deliver "a final warning" to the social networking giant over the no-show.
A written response of Facebook officials arrived in the middle of the committee's hearing at the Delhi assembly. It said the 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 Chaddha, who heads the committee, slammed what he called "insult and contempt" of the 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 Facebook executives.
"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.
Raghav Chaddha 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 panel on Peace and Harmony decided to summon Facebook officials while looking into complaints about the social networking site's alleged "deliberate and intentional inaction to contain hateful content" in India.
US media reports recently cited interviews with unnamed Facebook insiders to allege that rules against hate speech were not applied in the case of inflammatory posts by BJP leaders and rightwing activists.