A two-judge Bench of the Bombay High Court has delivered a split verdict in challenges against the Indian government's controversial plans to empower a state-appointed unit to identify and fact-check "fake, false, and misleading" information related to the Indian government online. Multiple petitions filed before the Bombay High Court last year criticised the amendment on free speech grounds, arguing that it would enable government-led censorship online by permitting it to determine what constitutes the 'truth'. Justice G.S. Patel held with the petitioners, while Justice Neela Gokhale held against them. The matter will now be placed before a third judge. The Indian government's current stay on notifying the fact check unit (which has been in place for over six months now), will continue for another ten days. Stay tuned for MediaNama's summaries of the two judgments. “Each of us has pronounced separate judgments," the two-judge Bench observed. "We have not been able to concur. Accordingly, in accordance with our rules, the matters will now be placed before the Honourable the [sic] Chief Justice by the registry, for being referred to a third judge. There was a statement made on behalf of the Indian government that has continued since approximately April 2023. We note that Mr. Mehta [the Solicitor General of India appearing for the Indian government] does not have instructions to continue this indefinitely. This is, however, a matter of administrative courtesy to the Hon’ble the [sic] Chief Justice and the third judge who will have to take up the matter.…
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