NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday adjourned the hearing on a batch of petitions challenging the newly enforced Information Technology Rules, 2021.
The Bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh, which was hearing petitions filed by digital news platforms including Quint, The Wire and several others challenging the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s (MeITY) digital and social media rules, adjourned the matter till August 4.
The Delhi High Court had earlier issued a notice to the Centre on the pleas in March.
The petition of the news portal “The Wire” had challenged the vires of ‘The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021’, which were recently notified by the Central Government.
The newly notified rules regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, over-the-top (OTT platforms), and social media intermediaries.
The plea has been moved by the Foundation of Independent Journalism, an organisation under which “The Wires” a digital news website works.
Another plea filed by Sanjay Singh, a practising lawyer, sought a direction to hold that the grounds of “unity, integrity, defence, security or sovereignty of India, friendly relations with foreign states, public order, preventing investigation of any offence, insulting other nations” and said the newly enforces rules “do not meet the requirements of placing restrictions on freedom of speech and expression”.
The petition states that the intermediary is brought under tremendous pressure to remove content that purportedly does not comply with the rules and to immediately block access to the user on its own.
“Otherwise, when it receives directions from a government agency or a competent court regarding any information on the purported ground of it being unlawful, the intermediary has to remove such content or block access to it within 36 hours or face punishment up to seven years of imprisonment,” the plea said.
According to amended IT rules, social media and streaming companies will be required to take down contentious content quicker, and appoint grievance redressal officers and assist in investigations.