Obscene content: Google, Facebook to remain in dock, rules HC

In what could be seen as a boost to the government's efforts to curtail 'objectionable' content on social websites, the Delhi High Court today refused to stay a summons against Google and Facebook issued by a trial court over a private complaint.

At the same time, Justice Suresh Kait denied a strong plea from the counsel for the Delhi Police that Google India managing director Rajan Anandan and Facebook India's director of online operations Kirthiga Reddy appear in person before the trial court on 13 March, when the next hearing is scheduled.

"What is this insistence that they should appear in person?" Justice Kait asked public prosecutor Naveen Sharma. They have been allowed to appear through a lawyer.

The court deferred the hearing of the petition challenging their summonses to 3 May.

Sharma told the court that websites like Facebook and Yahoo had been given sufficient warnings and opportunities by the communications and information technology ministry to remove objectionable content before steps were taken for their prosecution.

The Centre on 13 January allowed the prosecution of 20 social networking sites, saying the content was instigating enmity between different groups.