IT rules: Digital news publishers take plea to Madras HC, notice sent to Centre
The association said in its plea that it was being pressured by the ministry of information and broadcasting to furnish information within 15 days under Rule 18 of the new Information Technology Rules 2021.
The Madras High Court issued notices Wednesday to the Union Ministries of Electronics and Information Technology and Information & Broadcasting on a plea by Digital News Publishers Association — a 13-member collective of the nation’s biggest news media companies — challenging the Constitutional validity of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021).
The association said in its plea that it was being pressured by the ministry of information and broadcasting to furnish information within 15 days under Rule 18 of the new Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 and has been served two reminders since May 26.
As an interim relief, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy has granted liberty for the association and another petitioner journalist Mukund Padmanabhan to approach the court if any coercive action is taken under the rules.
The bench recorded the petitioners’ submission that there is “sufficient basis for the petitioners…apprehension that coercive and arm-twisting action may be taken” undersuchprovisions and sought an order seeking restraint of operation of Rules 12, 14 and 16 Rule 16 of the Rules give the Secretary, I&B, emergency powers to block, as an interim measure, public access to any information or a part of it without giving the intermediary hosting the said information any opportunity of hearing. Provision 12 offers options for one or more self-regulatory body of publishers, while 14 says that I&B Ministry shall constitute an inter-departmental committee with representatives from other Ministries.
The Digital News Publishers Association is made up of the following news companies: ABP Network Private Limited, Amar Ujala Limited, DB Corp Limited, Express Network Pvt Ltd, HT Digital Streams Limited, IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd, Jagran Prakashan Limited, Lokmat Media Private Limited, NDTV Convergence Limited, TV Today Network Limited, The Malayala Manorama Co (P) Ltd, Times Internet Limited, and Ushodaya Enterprises Private Limited.
The petitioners have pleaded against what they have called is a wrongful and arbitrary classification of “legacy media houses” as part of “digital media” to bring them under the IT Rules, without consultation with them but affecting unjustified oversight on their functioning.
The government has maintained that the rules are intended to deter the misuse of digital media.
NOTE: Asianet News humbly requests everyone to wear masks, sanitize, maintain social distancing and get vaccinated as soon as eligible. Together we can and will break the chain #ANCares #IndiaFightsCorona