Madras HC finds prima facie case in a grievance against the oversight mechanism in IT rules,2021

Madras HC finds prima facie case in a grievance against the oversight mechanism in IT rules,2021

The Hon’ble bench comprising Hon’ble justice P.D.Adikeshavulu observed that “there is prima facie case in the petitioner’s grievance regarding oversight mechanism which is mentioned under rule 9 of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules,2021(Hereinafter referred to as New IT rules,2021) that the said mechanism control the media by the government may rob the media of its independence.”

Further, referring to the case of  Shreya Singhal v. Union of India where the Hon’ble supreme court has struck down section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act and observed that unlawful acts beyond what is laid down in Article 19(2) of the Constitution “obviously cannot form any part of Section 79” of the Act it is stated that there is a substantial concern of petitioners that rules may coercively be applied by the government to intermediaries and in turn which may lead to violation of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution

Further, it is noted by the Hon’ble bench that “there is a stay of operation of sub-rules (1) and (3) of Rule 9 of the New IT Rules of 2021 by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, by an order which now has pan India effect after the solicitor general accepted it.”

In the instant case, petitioners challenged the new IT Rules on the ground that they are ultra vires, inter alia, Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution.

To elaborate further, in particular, the petitioners are referring to Rule 9 (3) which provides for the publishers ensuring observance and adherence to the Code of Ethics as is laid down in the appendix to the rules

It is contended by the petitioners that although Bombay high court passed the pan India stay on sub-rules (1) and (3) of Rule 9 of the New IT Rules of 2021 there are notices that have been issued to the petitioners subsequently requiring the petitioners to adhere to, inter alia, the said Rules.

The other ground of immediate challenge herein, which is not covered by the order of the High Court of Judicature at Bombay, pertains to Rules 3 and 7 of the impugned Rules.