The Delhi High Court has refused to halt new IT rules governing digital news companies.
The notice was sent to them merely for the implementation of a notification on which there was no stay, according to a vacation bench of Justices C Hari Shankar and Subramonium Prasad.
The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to stay the Centre's May 28 notice requiring digital news portals to comply with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, stating that the vacation bench would not grant any interim relief to the petitioners.
Quint Digital Media Limited and its director Ritu Kapur, the Foundation for Independent Journalism, which publishes The Wire, the Pravda Media Foundation, which runs the fact-checking website Alt News, and others are among the petitioners contesting the IT Rules in the Delhi High Court.
The Quint argues in its petition that the executive's ability to essentially dictate content to digital news portals would be a clear violation of Article 14 and 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. In other petitions, similar arguments have been presented.
“We are not in agreement with you. If you want we will pass a reasoned detailed order or if you want we can renotify it before the roster bench. You take instructions and let us know,” the court said.
The petition also claims that the Rules allow the government to enter and control news through deletion, modification, or blocking, as well as censure, compelled apology, and other means. It continues, "Clubbing online news portals with social media as opposed to print news media is an unfair and nonsensical categorization."
Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishna, who is representing the petitioners, stated on Monday that digital news portals were warned on June 18 that “consequences will follow” if they do not respect the guidelines, and that the central government cannot sit in judgment over news media content.
Online media portals and publishers, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and social media intermediaries are all governed by the 2021 Rules. The IT Rules 2021 intend to provide ordinary users of social media platforms and over-the-top (OTT) platforms with a system for grievance redress and speedy resolution through the employment of a Grievance Redressal Officer (GRO) who must be a resident of India. A three-tiered grievance resolution system has been established.