The Delhi Supreme Court on May 27th denied a request for a temporary suspension of information technology rules 2021. Live Law reported that the case was brought forward as the Supreme Court only hears “urgent” cases.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued one the same day that the order was issued public notice Instructing news organizations to provide details of their compliance with the rules within fifteen days.
The petitioners in the case –the Foundation for Independent Journalism, The Wire founding editor MK Venu and The News Minute editor Dhanya Rajendran–argued that the government was exceeding the powers granted to it by law and that the rules were excessive. The rules give the government judicial powers over publications, it said. The next hearing is now on August 4th, in more than two months.
In response to a similar petition from The Quint that was tagged along with the FIJ plea, the court similarly denied provisional protection. But she said she would listen to urgent requests if necessary. In March, however, the Kerala Supreme Court granted legal news website LiveLaw a stay of rules pending further proceedings.
The new IT rules require online news publications to appoint a complaints officer, be part of a self-regulatory body that can receive complaints from dissatisfied complainants, and ultimately submit to another level of government oversight. The rules also require compliance with a code of ethics and rules that previously only applied to print and broadcast media.
The IT rules are also being challenged by WhatsApp, which has turned to the Delhi Supreme Court to combat a request to force Facebook’s own messaging platform to track the sender of messages flagged by the government . WhatsApp argues that the rules are unconstitutional and would violate user privacy by forcing the company to make any message exchanged on the platform less secure by breaking end-to-end encryption.