Facebook India head challenges hate speech hearing, lodges petition with Supreme Court

Facebook India's head Ajit Mohan, has lodged a petition with Supreme Court challenging a summons to appear before a panel probing allegations the social media giant failed to take action against hate speech.

Ajit Mohan, Facebook India's managing director, was summoned to appear before a Delhi legislative panel on Wednesday after failing to front the committee last week.

Facebook India head Ajit Mohan. Image: CNBC Awaaz.

The social network has been embroiled in a huge row in India after the Wall Street Journal reported in August that the company failed to take down anti-Muslim comments by a politician from the ruling party to protect its business interests.

(Also read: Facebook, hate speech policies and everything else you need to know)

The panel – headed by an Aam Aadmi Party lawmaker – is also probing Facebook's "alleged role and complicity" in the Delhi riots in February which killed over 50 people, most of them minority Muslims.

In his petition to the Supreme Court, obtained by AFP, Mohan said the state legislative panel was operating outside its jurisdiction in its summons to Facebook India.

The petition also stated that the summonses "create a chilling effect on the free speech rights of users of the Facebook service".

A three-judge bench will hear the petition on Wednesday.

India is the world's biggest market in terms of users for Facebook and its messaging service WhatsApp, and the firm is under pressure worldwide over the policing of hate speech.

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