Thursday, July 8, 2021

Facebook cannot wash their hands off the issue; their role is not as innocuous as they claim: Supreme Court

A Bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan KaulDinesh Maheshwari, and Hrishikesh Roy stated that unless the Peace and Harmony committee embarks on a course completely devoid of its functional mandate specified by the Assembly, widest amplitude must be given to the functioning of such a committee.

"It is the parliamentary committee system that has been recognised as a creative way of parliaments to perform their basic functions. The same principle would apply, even if it is to some extent beyond their legislative domain," the Court said.

Supreme Court ruled the following:

1. There is no dispute about the right of the Assembly or the Committee to proceed on grounds of breach of privilege per se.

2. The power to compel attendance by initiating privilege proceedings is an essential power.

3. Members and non-Members (like the petitioners) can equally be directed to appear before the Committee and depose on oath.

4. In the given facts of the case, the issue of privileges is premature.

5. Canvassing a clash between privileged powers and certain fundamental rights is also preemptory in the present case.

6. The Assembly admittedly does not have any power to legislate on aspects of law and order and police in view of Entries 1 and 2 of List II in the Seventh Schedule inter alia being excluded. Further, regulation of intermediaries is also subject matter covered by the I.T. Act.

7. In the larger context, the concept of peace and harmony goes much beyond law and order and police, more so in view of on the-ground governance being in the hands of the Delhi Government.

8. Para 4(vii) of the Terms of Reference does not survive for any opinion of the Committee. It will not be permissible for the Committee to encroach upon any aspects strictly within the domain of Entries 1 and 2 of List II of the Seventh Schedule. As such, any representative of the petitioners would have the right to not answer questions directly covered by these two fields.

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