SC stays proceedings at the High court level after the Centre seeks transfer
The supreme court on 9th May restrained further proceedings in high courts in petitions challenging the new IT Rules 2021 and cable TV Networks (Amendment) Rules 2021 and clarified that it is not staying the interim orders which have been passed at present by the high courts. Justice Khanwilkar orally told to Advocate Vrinda Bhandari who was representing Live Law Media Private Ltd. that- ‘We are not touching any interim order today... We will see you on May 19, 2022.’ A bench of justices AM Khanwilkar and Abhay S Oka has also issued orders in petitions filed by the Union government seeking transfer of petitions from high courts across the country to the supreme court. Amongst the petitioners, Live Law is one of the petitioners who have challenged the Information technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules,2021. The media bodies, journalists and news agencies are The Wire, The News Minute, The Quint and Pratidhvani among other news outlets across the country moved High courts in their respective states of Maharashtra, Kerala, Delhi, and Tamil Nadu. Under the banner of Digital news Publishers Association (DNPA) 13 Media outlets, journalist Mukund Padmanabhan along with Carnatic musician, author and activist T.M Krishna had also moved the Madras high court against the IT rules.
In the petitions challenging the Tv cable network (Amendment) rule 2021, the same stay is also applicable for the same. In July 2021, the centre moved the petition for the transfer of all the pleas challenging the constitutionality of IT rules from various high courts to the Apex court. The members of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) representing various news channels, Upon the non-compliance with the new IT rules, the Kerala High court directed the Centre not to take any action against them. In August 2021, the High court of Bombay stayed Rules 9(1) and 9(3) which provide that digital news media and Publishers should adhere to the ‘court of ethics’ laid out in the rules in a plea filed by digital legal news portal Leaflet and journalist Nikhil Wagle. The high court observed that the said provision violated the fundamental right to freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) and also go against the substantive provisions of the Information Technology Act 2002.
In the Madras high court in September 2021, stayed the application of the same rules 9(1&3) of the IT rules stating- They rob the independence of media in the country. On a request made by the Solicitor general, on 2nd September 2021, a bench led by CJI directed the listing of petitions relating to IT rules after 6 weeks. Tushar Mehta (SG) representing the centre, on 9th May, told the apex court that there are different sets of petitions, some challenging the IT rules and the others seeking to regulate the top or OTT platforms. The Solicitor general stated that- ‘For OTT Platforms, intermediaries, Online platforms and online news, we have provided for some regulations. Some have challenged Part-2 of the regulations and some have challenged part-3.
There are fresh writ petitions and also the transfer petition praying for the stay of proceedings before several High courts. Some of the High courts- Kerala High courts, Delhi High courts, and Bombay High courts, have stayed the regulations. So, we have filled SLPs.’ The Apex court asked the Solicitor general to categorize the cases as
1) challenge the IT rules
2) challenge the cable TV amendment rules
3) Article 32 petitions seeking directions for evolving mechanisms which would touch upon the subject matter of IT rules.
The bench further clarifies that it will separately deal with cases related to hate crimes and hate speech. Over the SG unavailability, the union government first sought adjournment for two weeks further reported by the Live Law but, later said that it was a mistake. As consequence, Live Law representative, Senior Advocate Arvind was absent in the courtroom on Monday.
Tags : # Delhi # Delhi high court # supreme court #kerala #Tamil Nadu #Madras # Leaders #Informationtechnology