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Judiciary

Bombay HC gives SPLIT verdict in challenge against IT Rules Amendment 2023

By Rintu Mariam Biju      31 January, 2024 07:32 PM      0 Comments
Bombay HC gives SPLIT verdict in challenge against IT Rules Amendment 2023

MUMBAI: The Bombay High Court on Wednesday delivered a split verdict in challenge against the validity of Rule 3(i)(II)(A) & (C) of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023. The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology of the Central government may notify a fact-checking body that has the authority to recognize and label online news that it deems to be false or fake in relation to any Central government action, according to Rule 3. 

A Bench of Justices GS Patel and Neela Gokhale pronounced the verdict today in the four petitions filed by stand-up comic Kunal Kamra, the Editors Guild of India, the Association of Indian Magazines and the News Broadcast and Digital Association.

Justice Patel ruled in favour of the petitioners and struck down the provision. On the other hand, Justice Gokhale dismissed the petitions.
A detailed copy of the judgement is awaited. 

The Court was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that the FCU would not get notified for an additional 10 days. The petitioners now are at liberty to file an application before the relevant forum in order to request any additional extensions of protection. 

The effect of Rule 3 is that the telecom service providers and social media intermediaries will then have to take action against such content failing which they would lose the safe harbour protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act.

Accordingly, the petitioners before the High Court sought a declaration that rule 3(i)(II)(A), (C) to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 is ultra vires section 79 of the Information Technology Act and Article 14 and 19(1)(a), (g) of the Constitution.

Further it was argued that 2023 Rules are arbitrary and unconstitutional. The amendments do not fall within the scope of reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech provided in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. 

Also, the Rules did not follow the principles of natural justice as there is no provision for show-cause notice before taking action, it was argued. 



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