Facebook v. Delhi Legislative Assembly : The business of the Assembly is not limited to law; Inquiry can have a role: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court ruling on Thursday that limiting a legislative assembly to a basic function of law could not be accepted as it would lead to undue restrictions on the role of the elected body.

A division bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Dinesh Maheshwari, and Hrishikesh Roy filed a petition filed by Facebook India Managing Director Ajit Mohan against the summons issued by the Delhi Assembly’s Peace and Harmony Committee, which his presence was demanded in the investigation related to Delhi riots.

The court rejected Ajit Mohan’s argument that the Delhi Assembly could not constitute a panel to conduct an inquiry as it was not a legislative act.

The court recognized that the assembly’s “curious” and “recommendatory” powers could be exercised under the principle of better governance.

“The committee’s curious role in the working of the house is of great importance, and recognized, the investigation of a complex social problem before legislation often rests on such legislative committees”.

The Supreme Court also highlighted the issues of non-members. It was declared that the court failed to appreciate the line of reasoning that no non-member could be summoned or that their non-participation would not have adverse consequences if they had not intruded on the working of the Assembly. In light of this, it was held that “members and non-members alike may be directed to appear before the committee and to waive the oath”.

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