Orkut, the Google-owned social networking site, has come under fire for hosting a community called "We hate India", which includes anti-India messages and a picture of the nation's flag being burned.
According to the Times of India, the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court told the Maharashtra government to issue a notice to Google for alleged spread of hatred about the country.
The order was issued by Justice A P Deshpande and Justice R M Borde on Monday in response to a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by local advocate Yugant R Marlapalle.
The petition also appealed to the government to appoint a controller to regulate such communities.
The next hearing in the case is due to be held in six weeks.
It is thought that most of the members of the "We hate India" community are of Pakistani origin.
Orkut is one of the most popular social networking sites in India, and an audit of Orkut users in August ranked India's user base as the third largest in the world, behind Brazil and the US.
A Google spokesperson told the Business Standard: "Orkut is not based in India. It's an open community. However, as its owner, we govern the community with our terms of service, which strictly prohibit 'hate speech' and 'violence' among other things.
"Orkut is a community of 'trusted' users since only those who are invited can join it. Besides, it has standards and tools whereby users can report news as bogus. We also heavily rely on users to report such acts. "In this case, Google will review and take appropriate action (removal in this case)."
It's not the first time the site's been in trouble. In August, Federal Judge Jose Marcos Lunardelli gave Google's Brazilian affiliate until 28 September to release information needed to identify individuals accused of using Orkut to spread child pornography and engage in hate speech against various groups. Google did not release the information, but instead filed a brief in court explaining why it cannot comply with the judge's order. ®