The Bombay High Court asked the Centre to file affidavit as to why interim relief should not be granted to two petitioners who challenge the Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
The case is being heard by Justices G.S. Kulkarni and Dipankar Datta, filed on the petitions by AGIJ Ltd. (which owns the ‘The Leaflet’) and PIL by journalist Nikhil Wagle.
Senior Journalist Wagle challenged the IT Rules, 2021 as being too vague and violative of Article 14, Articles 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g) and Article 21 of Indian Constitution. The PIL by Wagle, pointed out that the rules which direct the finding of the originator threaten the privacy of users who would prefer to remain anonymous in the interest of fearless reporting.
The main concern with the IT Rules, 2021 is also that they give ‘unfettered power to the executive’ to direct intermediaries to block, delete or survey the online content, and this is bound to have chilling effect on free speech.
The petitioners urged for an early reply from the Union of India, which deferred filing any affidavit till August 13th, 2021.