The Delhi High Court today adjourned the hearing on petitions filed by Google India and Facebook India against the lower court's order to prosecute them for allegedly hosting offensive content on their sites, till February 2. Google India and Facebook Indian earlier had told the HC that it was impossible for them to prescreen content with billions of users accessing websites every day. The court had then adjourned the hearing till January 19.
Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, counsel for Google India, told reporters the summons issued to the Internet companies by a metropolitan magistrate showed complete lack of understanding of the mechanism of the online system. Kaul also stressed that the matter was related to freedom of expression on Internet.
"The issue relates to a constitutional issue of freedom of speech and expression, and suppressing it was not possible as the right to freedom of speech in democratic India separates us from a totalitarian regime like China," he said.
Kaul also pointed out that Google India and Google Inc. were two different entities, saying it had nothing to do with Google India directly or indirectly. The document submitted by Google India says the company has no control over websites featuring objectionable content.
Earlier, petitioner Vinay Rai had sought removal of 'objectionable' content from as many as 21 websites. Among these, 12 websites were owned by foreign-based companies. Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar summoned the Internet companies to face trial under the Indian Penal Code sections 292 (sale of obscene books and material and 293 (sale of obscene objects to young person). The trial court observed that documents submitted by the complainant had obscene pictures and offensive articles relating to various Hindi deities, Prophet Mohammad and Jesus Christ.
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