A petition was filed in the Bombay High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the Information Technology (Guidelines for intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 claiming that the new IT Rules violate the law, citing Article 14 (equality before the law), Articles 19 (1) (a) (to freedom of speech and expression), and 19 (1) (g) (to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business).
The rules are being challenged because they seek to impose unreasonable, excessive, and vague burdens on digital news publishers. The Rules seek to these publishers of news and current affairs content under the ambit of the Press Council of India Act, 1978, and the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995, without amending the respective legislations.
It is argued in the petition that the new IT Rules 2021 are beyond the Central Government’s legislative power because the Information Technology Act of 2000, does not contain anything that seeks to regulate or enables the regulation of digital content and ethics of online publishers, apart from a single provision that allows for the banning of content available online on specific grounds
The plea says these rules should be deemed unconstitutional under the Information Technology Act of 2000. In the meanwhile, it requested a stay on them.
-Report by VANESSA RODRIGUES