Kannada News Portal “Pratidhvani” files plea against the new IT Rules

Sushree Mohanty

Truth Pro Foundation India (TPFI), a non-benefit organization that runs Pratidhvani, an autonomous Kannada news media, has filed a plea contesting against the new Information Technology Rules which look to control the digital news media in the Karnataka high court.

The Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, the plea affirms, are ultra vires the Information Technology Act, under which they have been outlined.

The supplication additionally claims that the standards enforce are unclear and abstract. Pratidhvani is the fourth digital news media distribution to legally challenge the upgraded IT rules, after The Wire, LiveLaw and The Quint. In a short note gave toward the beginning of the appeal, Pratidhvani has explained as to why it is contesting the new standards.

The note reads as-
“The current Petition tests the… [IT Rules, 2021] as being ultra vires the new Information Technology Act, 2000… in however much they set up a characterization of ‘distributers of information and current undertakings content’ (“digital news media”) as a feature of ‘digital media’, and try to direct these news portals under Part III of the Rules… by forcing Government oversight and a ‘Code of Ethics’, which specifies such obscure conditions as ‘great taste’, ‘decency’, and so forth – matter no place inside the thought of the parent Act.”

The plea additionally states that the Rules are ultra vires to the parent Act on the ground that they indicate to basically enact on the direct of elements, and not within the domain of the parent Act. Secondly, the plea affirmed that the rules go past the particular empowering sections and present new ideas and guidelines.

They endeavour to restrict content based on dubious and abstract grounds which the Supreme Court has effectively voided when it struck down Section 66-An of the parent Act in Shreya Singhal.

The plea additionally clarified that it is contesting the new Information and Technology Rules as they influence computerized news media, and not Over The Top (OTT) stages or different medias. The Foundation for Independent Journalism (which runs The Wire), its founder-supervisor M.K. Venu and The NewsMinute supervisor Dhanya Rajendran had together documented the
principal legal test on the new Information and Technology rules.

On March 9, the Delhi high court gave notice to the Center on this appeal, which contends that “The Impugned Part of the Rules, to the degree that it tries to accomplish such uncommon guideline or control of computerized media including the digital media ans is clearly ultra vires the parent Act”.

The court has listed the matter for additional hearing on April 16, 2021. LiveLaw, a legal news site, has likewise contested the standards in the Kerala high court. The request said the guidelines imposed on February 25, 2021 are “subjective, obscure,
unbalanced and preposterous”
limitations on digital news media and web-based media mediators. The Quint also has tested the guidelines in the Delhi high court. On March 19, the bench gave notice to the Centre on this request.

The Quint has said in its appeal, “In addition to the fact that it is impermissible for subordinate enactment to go past the reason for the parent Act, it is far more regrettable that it does as such in a way that influences Fundamental Rights. This is exactly what the IT Rules, 2021 do.”

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