The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the Central Government to question the introduction of the new draft of IT rules 2021 on Digital Ethics Code which doesn’t supersede the 2009 rules. 

The bench comprising of Dipankar Dutta and GS Kulkarni has passed a stay order against Rule 9(1) and 9(3) of the Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 after going through the petition and held that it is violating the fundamental right of the petitioner of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a). An interim stay order has been levied in the two clauses.

The petitioners, who are two news portals, have raised the objections that the new rules will have a “chilling effect” on citizen’s fundamental right to speech and expression. The rules are ultra vires so far as they apply to news publishers.

Further, it has been observed by the court that why was there a need to bring a new rule when there is an existing law regulating it? This was with respect to section 69A (i)(ii) of the IT Act.

It can be said that the new IT rules can help in curbing the spread of fake news and help in identifying the original sender of that message. There will be strict surveillance followed with regard to the content being shared on these social media intermediaries.

By – Sarthak Dutt

Legal Intern, WCSF

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