US officials have told the Indian government that they cannot serve summons to Facebook and Google executives, as requested by a Delhi court, because that impacts “free speech principles”.

India had asked the US to help in serving papers to the executives of 11 Internet companies who are accused of hosting content designed to fuel communal hatred.

In January this year, the court issued fresh summons for the executives and asked the Ministry of Home Affairs to ensure they were delivered. “As you know, there are limits to our Constitution’s protections on free speech, such as when the speech comprises a true threat or incites imminent violence. In this case, there has not been a sufficient showing in this regard,” US authorities said in response.

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Facebook and Google won't have to appear in Indian courts just yet

The case was filed in December 2011 by a journalist named Vinay Ray who said Internet firms should be prosecuted for hosting the content. The case will be heard in Delhi on May 21.

Even as Google and Facebook get a breather from appearing in court over allegedly hosting offensive content, the search giant has had to deal with another legal issue pertaining to the Google Mapathon event’s India leg. While Google has maintained that the Mapathon contest was in line with Indian laws, the company could see some court time in India over allegedly violating the cartographical laws of the land.

Another petition filed with the Delhi High Court questions the legality of allowing minors to register on Facebook or the likes. The High Court is awaiting a response from the government, which was asked to explain why minors are allowed to enter contracts with social network.

With inputs from PTI

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