Implementation of IT rules: Delhi HC to stay implementation
New Delhi, June 28: The Delhi High Court refused to stay the Centre's May 28 notice asking digital news portals to comply with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The court said that there was no question of the Vacation Bench granting an interim relief to the petitioners. The Bench comprising Justices Hari Shankar and Subramanian Prasad said that the recent notice is only for the implementation of the rules. The court also said that the petitioners have not been able to get a stay against the rules from the roster Bench.
"You've challenged the Rules, made an interim application for stay of the Rules; that application has come before the division bench on at least two occasions. The action they are taking now is only implementation of those Rules. You've not made a case that the notice is contrary to the Rules," the Bench said that while listing the applications for July 7 before a roster Bench.
The petition filed by Quint says that the executive power to virtually dictate content to digital news portals would violate Article 14 and 19)1)(a) of the Constitution. "The IT Rules, 2021 introduce digital portals with 'news and current affairs content' as a specific and targeted class to be subject to regulation by a loose-ranging 'Code of Ethics' and to be consummately overseen by Central Government officers," the petition said.
Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Nitya Ramakrishna said that the digital news portals on June 18 were warned that consequences will follow unless they comply with the rules. She argued that the government cannot sit in judgment over content in the news media. She said that the portals had told the Centre that they are willing to engage with it and there was no need for coercive action when the information the government is seeking is in public domain. The court however said that it is not in agreement with the submission and refused to pass an interim order.