Bombay High Court stays enforcement of ‘Code of Ethics’ prescribed by IT Rules

A division bench of the Bombay High Court, comprising of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni, on August 14, 2021 stayed Rules 9(1) and 9(3) of the recently enacted Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. These rules made it mandatory for the digital news media and online publishers to adhere to the “Code of Ethics” provided by the Rules.

The High Court observed that these provisions infringe the fundamental right of freedom of speech provided under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and are also in contradiction with substantive provisions of the parent act, the Information Technology Act, 2002.

The Court, however, refused to stay Rules 7, 14 and 16 of the Information Technology Rules, 2021. Rule 7 deals with penalties for intermediaries for violating the prescribed Rules. Rule 14 prescribes formulation of an inter-developmental committee as an oversight mechanism for digital media. The Court observed that since the committee has not been constituted, there is no ‘immediate urgency’. Rule 16 deals with the Centre’s power to block access to content.

Lastly, the Court observed that in a democracy, dissent is vital and is vital for its functioning, however, the IT Rules, 2021 can have a chilling effect on the fundamental right of freedom of speech.

Read order here.

Centre tells Delhi High Court that Twitter is in compliance with the new IT Rules, 2021

The Centre on Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that Twitter was ‘prima facie’ in compliance with the new IT Rules, 2021 enacted by it. The Centre said that Twitter complied with the said Rules by appointing a Chief Compliance Officer and a Nodal Contact Person permanently. Justice Rekha Palli, while hearing the petition alleging non-compliance of IT Rules by Twitter, sought an affidavit within two weeks from the Centre in order to bring its stand on record.

Madras High Court grants more time to Centre to file counter-affidavit

Recently, Carnatic music singer TM Krishna, Digital News Publisher of India, former editor of the Hindu, N Ram and a senior journalist filed a batch of public interest litigations which challenge the recently enacted Information Technology Rules, 2021. They have contended that the said rules are ultra vires the Constitution and the parent Act, Information Technology Act, 2000.

The Bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu, initially granted the Central government to file its counter, posted the said matter for hearing after 15 days. Additionally, on Friday, the Madras High Court granted 10 more days to the Central Government to file its counter-affidavit in response to the said PILs.

Kerala High Court dismisses PIL against the release of the movie, ‘Eesho’

The Kerala High Court dismissed a public interest litigation on August 13, seeking a directive to Central Board of Film Certification to not grant permission to release ‘Eesho’, a Malayalam movie. The petition was filed by Christian Association and Alliance for Social Action (CASA). The bench comprising of Chief Justice S. Manikumar and Justice Shaji P Chally, while dismissing the petition observed that the Court cannot interfere with the certification of a film merely on its name.

Delhi High Court restrains broadcasting of “A Big Little Murder”, a documentary by Netflix, CNA

The broadcasting of the documentary “A Big Little Murder” which reportedly deals with the death of a student of a Gurugram school has been restrained by the Delhi High Court on Netflix and Channel News Asia in the case of St. Xavier’s Education Trust v. Mayurica Biswas, Media Corp digital Network and Netflix Entertainment services LLP.

Jammu and Kashmir launches film policy to promote local talents and shooting in the Union Territory

Manoj Sinha, lieutenant governor of Jammu and Kashmir has launched a Film Policy for the Union Territory, in order to facilitate the overall growth of the film industry in the territory. This includes revival of abandoned and closed cinema halls and setting up of a film development council. The policy was launched in the presence of Bollywood actor, Mr.Aamir Khan and filmmaker Rajkumar Hirani. Moreover, this policy aims at making the Union Territory as the first priority as a destination for shooting films for filmmakers.