An internet user looks at a Facebook page. AFP
A Delhi court today issued summons to various foreign-based social networking sites, including Facebook and Google, to face criminal charges for allegedly hosting objectionable contents and directed them to appear before it on March 13.
It asked the Ministry of External Affairs to get the summons served on these companies.
The court direction came after the counsel, appearing for Facebook India, said over ten out of 21 companies named as accused in the case were foreign-based and that the court would have to issue process to serve the summons on them.
The court was hearing a private complaint filed by a journalist Vinay Rai against these firms for allegedly web-casting objectionable contents. The summons were issues to the sites including Facebook, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Youtube.
"Let the process (to serve the summons) on (foreign-based) accused be sent through the MEA as per the process," Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar said.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on March 13 and directed the accused to appear in person before it on the next date.
"The accused are allowed exemption for today only but are directed to appear in person on the next date of hearing without fail," the magistrate said.
The court passed the order after 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.
During the hearing, senior counsel Siddharth Luthra, representing Facebook India, sought adjournment for the day, saying the matter was pending before the Delhi High Court and the case file was also in the High Court.