Facing trial over “objectionable content”, social networking websites Google India and Facebook India today sought to invoke their right to freedom of speech and expression before the Delhi High Court and contended that a “casual” approach by a magisterial court had unjustifiably put them in the dock.
Responding to the judge’s remark at the last date of hearing that the court would have to block websites like in China if “such things” were not controlled, Google India said Indian democracy and Constitution considered freedom of thought, speech and expression, with required checks, as a fundamental right.
With the arguments remaining inconclusive, the court posted the petitions by the two companies, challenging the summoning order of the magistrate, for further hearing to Thursday.
The court took strong exception to Facebook India arguing that a Delhi magistrate had shown “undue haste” in issuing summons to them, warning the website to refrain commenting on a judge’s mind.
When senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Facebook, said that the magistrate had in less than a week proceeded on a “motivated and malicious” complaint and issued summons without a proper police report, Justice Suresh Kait said: “This is unfair. When a judge shows promptness, then also you have problems.”
The court added: “Don’t blame the judge (magistrate). He has only done what he thought was right in the given circumstances. Am I not taking up the matter regularly even when several old cases are pending in my court? It is only because of the urgency of this matter. The magistrate would have also thought so.”