Bombay HC seeks government’s response over stay on IT media rules

Bombay HC seeks government’s response over stay on IT media rules

The new rules came into effect on 25 May.

Bombay HC

New Delhi: The Bombay high court has asked the central government to submit a response as to why an interim stay should not be given to the implementation of the Information Technology (IT) Rules, 2021, as demanded by two petitions.

"File a short affidavit on why interim relief should not be granted," the HC told the Union government, adjourning the hearing to 13 August.

The court was hearing two petitions filed by digital news portal `The Leaflet' and journalist Nikhil Wagle who had challenged the new regulations notified by the government in February this year. According to the petitions, the new rules are "vague", "draconian", and bound to have a "chilling effect" on the freedom of press and right to free speech guaranteed by the Constitution.

The petitions had also contended that the rules “go beyond the parameters set by the Information Technology Act and limits set under Article 19 of the Constitution.”

It is significant to note that similar petitions opposing the new rules have been filed in high courts across the country. The government has been asked to submit its response by 13 August.

In a separate case, the government told the Delhi high court on Tuesday, that Twitter was prima facie in compliance with the new IT Rules by appointing a chief compliance officer (CCO), resident grievance officer (RGO) and nodal contact person on permanent basis.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 seek to regulate dissemination and publication of content in cyber space, including social media platforms.

The rules also recommend a three-tier mechanism for the regulation of all online media. Under the rules, the digital publishers are required to take urgent steps for appointing a grievance officer, if not done, and place all relevant details in the public domain. They also need to constitute self-regulatory bodies through mutual consultation so that the grievances are addressed at the level of publishers or the self-regulating bodies themselves.