Legal news portal LiveLaw on Wednesday obtained a stay from the Kerala High Court against any coercive action the government may take against the publisher under the new Intermediary Rules 2021 issued under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The new rules require the publication to join a self-regulatory body and appoint a grievance officer, among other requirements.
“The respondents shall not take any coercive action against the petitioners for non- compliance of the provisions contained in Part III of Exhibit P1 Rules, as the petitioners are the publishers of law reports and legal literature,” Justice PV Asha said in the order. The case will next be heard on March 18 for detailed arguments.
In its petition, drafted by Vrinda Bhandari, Gautam Bhatia, Abhinav Sekhri, Sanjana Srikumar, Devdutta Mukhopadhyay, Krishnesh Bapat, and Tanmay Singh, Live Law argued that:
[T]he Intermediaries Rules 2021 have not been issued following due process under the IT Act 2000, are vague, suffer from excessive delegation of powers, will lead to the exercise of judicial functions by non-judicial authorities, and are an attempt to overrule the effect of the judgment passed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal v Union of India, (2015) 5 SCC 1″ — LiveLaw Petition
The Rules make “the executive both the complainant and the judge on vital free speech questions,” the petition said. Liv Law has sought the quashing of the Rules altogether in its petition.
The Foundation of Independent Journalism, the trust owns The Wire has also challenged the Rules in the Delhi High Court. The court has issued notice to the government in the case, and will hold the next hearing on April 16.
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