Wednesday, June 7, 2023
Support Our Journalism
HomePoliticsPrivilege vs privilege — Shashi Tharoor, BJP MP take Facebook hate speech...

Privilege vs privilege — Shashi Tharoor, BJP MP take Facebook hate speech row to Speaker

Shashi Tharoor sent a letter to the LS Speaker against BJP MP Nishikant Dubey for making ‘disparaging remarks’, while the latter alleged Tharoor violated Parliament rules.

Text Size:

New Delhi: After Congress MP Shashi Tharoor, who heads the Parliamentary panel on Information Technology, Tuesday sent a ‘breach of privilege’ notice to the Lok Sabha Speaker against BJP MP Nishikant dubey for making “disparaging remarks” against him on social media, the latter Wednesday sent a counter notice to the Speaker.

Tharoor sent the notice against Dubey, who is a member of the IT panel, after he “questioned” his authority as the chairman of the committee when he sought to hear from Facebook on the hate speech issue.

Tharoor tweeted Sunday that the standing committee would seek the views of Facebook on a news report published by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on 14 August that said Facebook India had turned a blind eye to hate speech by a BJP leader and three other “Hindu nationalist individuals and groups” to avoid damaging the social media platform’s business prospects in its biggest market.

“The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology would certainly wish to hear from @Facebook about these reports & what they propose to do about hate-speech in India.”


Tharoor also spoke to the media about the issue, saying he “would certainly look into the issue and the committee will seek the views of Facebook”.

Following this, Dubey had Monday tweeted: “Chairman of the Standing Committee does not have the authority to do anything without discussion of the agenda with its members”. 


In his ‘breach of privilege’ notice sent to Speaker Om Birla, Dubey also complained about Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for “questioning the integrity of all BJP MPs”.

Dubey, an MP from Godda in Jharkhand, took strong objection to Gandhi’s remark on Twitter Sunday that “BJP and RSS control Facebook and WhatsApp in India”. 

“They spread fake news and hatred through it and use it to influence the electorate. Finally, the American media has come out with the truth about Facebook,” Gandhi had tweeted.

It was in response to Gandhi’s tweet that Tharoor wrote the standing committee would want to hear from Facebook on the issue.

Speaking to ThePrint, Dubey said: “The BJP is made of workers, leaders, MPs and MLAs. You (Rahul Gandhi) are blaming the entire BJP for spreading hatred. It is like questioning the integrity of the MPs. You are questioning the MPs, who come under the Parliament. That is why I have filed breach of privilege notice against Rahul Gandhi to ask for an apology or face action for denigrating the honour of BJP MPs.”

On Tharoor, Dubey told ThePrint that he didn’t follow that rule that an order signed by the secretary general of Lok Sabha is required to summon witnesses.

“The chairman (of a Lok Sabha committee) does not have the executive power (to summon witnesses). Tharoor has violated Parliament rule 269. It is a case of breach of privilege,” he told ThePrint. 

Also read: Twitter, Facebook profited a lot from India’s hate agenda. Time to pull the plug with a law

Tharoor’s letter

Tharoor sent the notice against Dubey for challenging his authority as the House panel chairman when he sought to hear from Facebook on the issue of hate speech.

“Dubey accused me of championing a political agenda without authorisation by the committee and Speaker. This amounts to breach of privilege of his position as an MP. His remarks have not only brought disrepute to the office of chairman, but also to the institution (Parliament),” said Tharoor in the letter.

Tharoor has urged Birla to initiate proceedings against Dubey for committing “breach of privilege”.

“I sincerely hope that stringent action will be taken in this matter so that it serves as a deterrent to concurrence of similar incident,” he wrote in the letter.

Not the first time 

This isn’t the first time that Dubey has sought privilege motion against a Congress MP. In 2019, he had sought the motion against Rahul Gandhi for his purported remarks describing Bhopal MP Pragya Thakur as a terrorist.

“Calling a woman a terrorist is worse than the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi,” Dubey had said that time on the floor of the House.

According to the Parliament rules, a panel chairman can take decisions, especially when the House is not in session or when a meeting is not going to happen in near future and the matter is of public importance, which Tharoor has cited as a reason for wanting to hear from Facebook. But in any case, the Speaker can reject such a decision.

During the previous Modi government, BJP MP Anurag Thakur, who was the IT panel head, had summoned Twitter officials over the issue of safeguarding citizens’ rights on social media platforms.

Also read: Hate speech issues were internally flagged in Facebook in 2018, claims MP Mahua Moitra


Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Support Our Journalism

India needs fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism, packed with on-ground reporting. ThePrint – with exceptional reporters, columnists and editors – is doing just that.

Sustaining this needs support from wonderful readers like you.

Whether you live in India or overseas, you can take a paid subscription by clicking here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Am I the only (idiot) Indian who has not really understood this business of “Hate Speech”?
    If anybody in India is scared of religious influence in society, it is unfounded. We should be more scared of criminality and political exploitation in the name of religion. Should the people be influenced by a handful of politicians propagating “hate speech”, when we really do not know what is religious hate speech. Well, please tell me whether preaching a religion over other religions is hate speech? Well? I don’t want an answer. Definitely calling for violence on any grounds, with or without hate, is a criminal offence punishable under the law and not a hate speech.
    Am I wrong to say that this business of hate speech is at best a misplaced phrase invented by vested interests?
    What is required in India is that each religion accept the other religions on as is where is basis. ( Foster a thinking that “Your GOD is as good as my GOD”) . A status of accommodative pluralism. This will happen with proper messaging by the media, leaders of every denomination, “intellectuals” and “activists.” I will request the politicians, media, activists”, all of who I definitely respect and are essential for Nation building, to be more honest and constructive in guiding the society on the correct path.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular