The Information Technology Rules 2021 enable the government to virtually dictate content to digital news portals, and squarely violate media freedom, stated a plea filed by media outlet The Quint in the Delhi High Court. The petition challenges the constitutionality of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules. 2021, which was notified last month. The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice on the petition, tagging it to another similar petition filed earlier this month by The Foundation for Independent Journalism. The court, however, did not agree to provide interim protection against coercive action by the government — as the Kerala High Court had done for LiveLaw — but said it would hear an application immediately if the need arose. The IT Rules 2021 prescribe, among other things, a three-tier regulatory structure for digital news media organisations. The Quint's is the fourth such petition against the Rules in recent weeks, all of whom have argued that the Rules are violative of the freedom of speech and amount of excessive delegation of legislation by rule-making. "No reading of the rule-making power will allow for such a regulatory regime for digital news media entities without express statutory sanction, for that will run the danger of adversely affecting Fundamental Rights, especially the right to free speech under Article 19(1)(a). Given such grave consequences, rule-making power has to be read strictly," the petition notes. For more context on how the IT Rules propose to regulate digital media and intermediaries, read…
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