The Wire challenges new digital media rules before Delhi High Court


Sushree Mohanty

‘The Wire’ has moved the Delhi High Court contending against the new guidelines formed by the Central Government under the Information Technology Act to manage internet mediators, Over-The-Top (OTT) stages, and the digital news media. The Wire is the foundation for Independent Journalism and Online news sites.

The petition has been documented by ‘Foundation for Independent Journalist’, a trust which is the owner of ‘The Wire’, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of ‘The News Minute’ Mr. Dhanya Rajendran and Founding Editor of ‘The Wire’ MK Venu.

The plea is in regards to The Information Technology Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code Rules, 2021.

The said guidelines, apart from the digital media news, intend to control content via web-based media and Over The Top (OTT) streaming stages, bringing them under the domain of the central government.

The new guidelines mandate digital platforms to provide subtleties of proprietorship and editorial administration; It also requires them to appoint an officer for grievance redress. 

Consequently, DigiPub, an 11-member digital news affiliation, has addressed the Center proposing that the standards appear to “conflict with the basic principles of information and news and are against its role in democracy”.

The Wire is also an associated member of the DigiPub.

Similarly, the Editors Guild of India has written to the government emphasizing that the new guidelines would “truly sabotage” media opportunity in India.

“On a quick perusing, the weights being set on distributors of digital news go past the fundamental limitations on the right to speak freely and subsequently opportunity of the free press as guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution and are in this way ultra vires to the Constitution,” Siddharth Varadarajan, one of the founder of The Wire stated.

Varadarajan additionally called attention to the fact that the state’s Constitution does not confer the power on the judge to decide on the “reasonableness of substance” in media and therefore conceding that to an inter-ministerial committee of bureaucrats “will add up to killing the notion of the free press in India”.

He added that the current laws already impose certain reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) of the Constitution and that an aggrieved per user or government official can seek lawful remedy under the said provision.

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