Centre not co-operating in complaint against websites: Court
New Delhi: The Centre is "not co-operating" in its proceedings against various US-based websites, including Facebook and Google, accused of promoting class enmity and undermining national integrity, a Delhi court said on Wednesday.
Metropolitan Magistrate Jay Thareja made the observation after repeated failure of a Union Home Ministry official to appear before it in response to complaint filed against 21 websites for allegedly committing offences, including those of selling obscene materials to youths and hatching criminal conspiracy.
"I am getting the impression that the Government of India is not co-operating in this matter. The man (MHA official) has not yet come. I have called him several times but he is not coming," the court observed.
During the hearing, advocate Siddharth Aggarwal, who is representing one of the websites, said the court`s impression that the Centre is not co-operating in the matter is "wrong" as the government had earlier given the sanction to prosecute these social networking websites.
The magistrate, however, told the defence counsel saying, "the time when sanction was given, the IAC (India against Corruption) movement was going on."
The defence counsel, however, countered the court`s observation saying the government`s sanction order had nothing to do with the IAC stir.
The court, meanwhile, issued a notice to the MHA`s Under Secretary Amar Chand, who had failed to appear before it today, and posted the matter for hearing on December 21.
The court had earlier directed MHA to verify the filled-up forms for service of summonses to the US-based websites after complainant`s counsel S P M Tripathi gave it the forms, required to be filled under an Indo-US treaty for service of summonses.
The court had earlier told the MHA to check the forms submitted by the complainant and apprise it by today if the forms have been filled up as per the prescribed norms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between the two countries.
Amar Chand had earlier told the court to start extradition proceedings to secure the presence of the websites based abroad and had referred to the MLAT between the US and India saying instead of issuing summonses against them, it should initiate extradition proceedings.
The court, however, had said it would not initiate the extradition proceedings and had asked the official to assist the complainant`s counsel in filling the forms for service of summonses.
The websites named in the complaint include Facebook, Orkut, YouTube, Yahoo, Blogspot, Google and Microsoft.
The court earlier on June 8 had directed the Union Home ministry to get the summonses served to various US-based websites.
The Centre had earlier told the court that there was sufficient material to proceed against the websites for the alleged offences.
The court had on December 23 last year issued summons to 21 social networking websites on the complaint.