A senior Union home ministry official on Tuesday suggested to a Delhi court to start extradition proceedings to secure the presence of some US-based websites, including Facebook and Google, accused of promoting class enmity and undermining the national integrity.
Appearing in the court in response to its summons to him, the Home Ministry's Under Secretary Amar Chand referred to the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) between the United States and India and said instead of issuing summonses against them, the court should initiate extradition proceedings.
Metropolitan Magistrate (MM) Jay Thareja, however, said he would not initiate the extradition proceedings against the websites and asked the official to assist complainant
Vinay Rai's counsel in filling the forms for service of summonses as prescribed under the MLAT.
"In the present case, all the accused are corporations/juristic personalities. It is appropriate that they be served by way of summonses. Therefore, advocate for the complainant has been directed to complete/fill the forms supplied by Amar Chand in response to the summonses sent on June 12, 2012.
"Amar Chand has agreed to assist the advocate for the complainant in filing the forms," the court said and posted the matter for further hearing on October 18.
The court had earlier directed Amar Chand to appear and explain the process of service of summonses in connection with the case filed against 21 social networking websites for allegedly committing offences of selling obscene materials to youths and criminal conspiracy.
The court had directed the ministry on June 8 to get the summonses served to various US-based websites which have been arrayed as accused in the complaint.
The websites named in the complaint include -- Facebook, Orkut, YouTube, Yahoo, Blogspot, Google and Microsoft.
During the day's hearing, Amar Chand told the court that as per the treaty, even if it would issue summonses to these websites, it would take a lot of time to serve them.
Explaining the process, he said a court here could issue summons against a witness who is based in the US but if it is seeking the presence of a person as an accused, it should be done by initiating extradition proceedings.
"If someone (based in US) is a witness then he can be summoned...as soon as the court issues arrest warrants, the foreign country (US) will say that it amounts to extradition. So it will be better if we start extradition proceedings now," he said.
The court, however, said at this stage it would not take any coercive steps against the websites and directed the official to assist Rai's lawyer in filing the form for serving summonses.
It had earlier given a Law Ministry's circular, dealing with the service of process in foreign countries, to Rai's counsel.
The Centre had earlier said there was sufficient material to proceed against the websites for the alleged offences.
The court had on December 23 last year issued summons to 21 social networking websites on the complaint.