The central government Friday gave the green signal to proceed against all the accused persons heading 21 social networking sites, including Facebook and Google, that were allegedly hosting objectionable content.
“Government is satisfied that there is sufficient material to proceed against the accused persons under section 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of IPC,” said the government report submitted to a court here.
The Department of Information Technology, in its report submitted before Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar has granted sanction to proceed against the 21 companies mentioned in the complainant report for causing problems in national harmony, integration and national interest for allegedly promoting objectionable content.
In its report, the Department of Information Technology has also mentioned about the four meetings held with representatives of social networking sites. The ministry has drawn their attention on the objectionable and defamatory content and asked to take appropriate action.
The department allowed the prosecution of the social networking sites saying the content was instigating enmity between different groups on the ground of religion and was against national harmony.
The metropolitan magistrate on Dec 23 had directed the central government to take immediate and appropriate steps on the objectionable content of the sites, and file its report by Jan 13.
Earlier in the day, the case hearing was adjourned till March 13 with a Delhi court directing the external affairs ministry to serve the summons issued to foreign-based social networking sites.
“The accused are directed to appear in person on the next date of hearing without fail,” the magistrate said.
Advocate Shashi Tripathi, appearing for the complainant, told the magistrate that he would file a fresh list of the addresses of the various foreign-based sites for the serving of the summons through the MEA.
The defence counsel told court that the summons can be served to foreign companies by MEA, according to process.
However, counsel for Facebook, Google India Private Limited, Yahoo India, and others appeared in the court seeking exemption on the ground that the matter is pending in the Delhi High Court.
The petition, moved by Vinod Rai, had requested the court to remove objectionable content from 21 websites. Among these, 12 websites are of foreign-based companies.
Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar earlier summoned the accused companies to face trial for allegedly committing the offence punishable under sections 292 (sale of obscene books etc.), 293 (sale of obscene objects to young person etc.) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).