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Supreme Court stays OTT streaming regulation hearings in High Courts, to take petitions up in April

Supreme Court
Credit: Aditi Agrawal

The Supreme Court issued a stay on a batch of petitions, filed in in lower courts, related to the government’s proposed regulations for OTT streaming services, Bar & Bench and Live Law reported on Twitter. The apex court will the petitions pleading for greater regulations in April, the reports said.

This essentially puts a hold on litigation concerning streaming regulations going on in lower courts. Cases in courts like the Punjab & Haryana High Court will be stayed. The Supreme Court will hear these cases two weeks after Holi, which falls around April 12, the reports said.

Earlier this month, the government notified the Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which would require streaming services to set up — and submit to — a three-tier grievance redressal mechanism where complaints on content on streaming platforms like Netflix and Hotstar will be heard by streaming services, a self-regulatory body they are a part of, and finally by an inter-ministerial committee formed by the government.

While the Rules pose their own free speech problems, two litigants are dissatisfied with the extent to which the court has gone. Speaking to MediaNama, one litigant indicated that pre-censorship or stricter regulations is something they would seek from the Supreme Court; and a rejoinder filed by the Justice for Rights Foundation, which has been litigating this issue in the Delhi High Court and the Supreme Court for years, argues that subordinate legislation under the IT Act is insufficient to address their concerns, and demanding legislation.

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