Lekha G –
The Madras High Court has issued a notice in a writ petition by the Digital News Publishers Association and Journalist Mukund Padmanabhan challenging the constitutional validity of the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy has tagged the petition along with Carnatic musician TM Krishna’s pending plea.
Senior Advocate PS Raman appearing for the petitioners urged the Court to grant interim relief if any coercive action is taken against them invoking Rules 12, 14 and 16 of the IT Rules, 2021.
The petitioners had contended that the IT Rules curbed Article 19 (1) (a) and Article 14 of the Constitution. Also, the IT Rules were passed without any consultation with the legacy media houses and the Code of Ethics under Part III intended to regulate content on basis of vague standards.
It was further pointed out that the inter-departmental body under Rule 14, which deals with appeals against decisions of the self-regulatory body, is comprised entirely of bureaucrats. Concerns were also raised on Rule 16, which Senior Advocate Raman said was a “Henry the VIIIth”, “Omnibus” provision.
The Court order stated, “Since no adverse action has been initiated against the petitioners as of now, no omnibus order made at this stage. However, if such provisions are resorted to against the petitioners, petitioners will be at liberty to apply for interim relief.”
The respondents were asked to file a counter within two weeks and the matter to be heard further in three weeks.