In Ajit Mohan & Ors. v. Delhi and Ors National Capital Territory Legislative Assembly., the court was, among others, faced with the question of the Legislative Assembly’s privilege to summon a person who is not on the Executive, and whether this violates an individual’s right to privacy and freedom of expression. The court dismissed the petition in brief and refused to quash the subpoena issued to the petitioner and Facebook. In this context, the Court found the following:
I. There is no dispute on the right of the Assembly to proceed for breach of privilege. in itself.
ii. The power to compel attendance by instituting privilege proceedings is an essential power.
iii. Members and non-members (such as petitioners) may also be invited to appear before the Committee and give evidence under oath.
iv. In fact, the question of privileges is premature. That said, the insertion of paragraph 4 (vii) of the terms of reference taken at the same time as the press conference of the chairman of the committee could legitimately raise apprehensions in the minds of petitioners about whom a warning has been given. done .
v. The solicitation of a conflict between privileged powers and certain fundamental rights is also pre-emptive in this case.
vi. Either way, the larger question of privilege vis à vis the right to freedom of expression, silence and privacy in the context of Part III is still outstanding given the reference to Larger Bench in N. Ravi v. legislative Assembly (2005) 1 CSC603
vii. It is true that the Assembly does not have the power to legislate on aspects of public order and the police since entries 1 and 2 of list II of the seventh annex are excluded. In addition, the regulation of intermediaries is also covered by the Information Technology Act.
viii. The Assembly does not only exercise the function of legislating; there are many other aspects of governance which may form part of the core functions of the Legislative Assembly and, therefore, of the Committee.
ix. Paragraph 4 (vii) of the terms of reference does not survive any opinion of the committee. The Committee will not be allowed to encroach on aspects strictly within the scope of entries 1 and 2 of List II of the Seventh Annex. As such, any representative of the petitioners would have the right not to answer the questions directly covered by these two areas.
[Key Words: Facebook, liability of intermediaries, summons, Delhi riots, privilege, legislative competence, fundamental rights, time and case management] [Coram: Sanjay Kishan Kaul, J., Dinesh Maheshwari, J., Hrishikesh Roy, J.]