Madras High Court has issued notice to the central government on a writ petition moved by the Digital News Publishers Association comprising thirteen media outlets and Journalist Mukund Padmanabhan Challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
As an intern relief to the petition, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy has directed the association and Mukund Padmanabhan to approach the court in case of any coercive or arm twisting action is taken against them under the new IT rules specifically under 12, 14 & 16 provisions.
Senior advocate PS Raman has represented the Digital News Publishers Association and contended that Rule 16 is an omnibus provision that gives power to the secretary of the Union ministry of information and broadcasting to block public access to any digital information. He urged the court to pass an interim order restraining the Union government from taking any action under the rules pending disposal of the case.
The court pointed out that no adverse action had been initiated against the petitioner. The bench refused to grant any omnibus order staying the operation of the rules.
“If such provisions are resorted to against the petitioner, they will be at liberty to apply for interim relief in these proceedings,” the court said. The hearing of the case is adjourned to July 14.
The first petitioner – Digital News Publishers Association comprises ABP Network Private Limited, Amar Ujala Limited, DB Corp Limited, Express Network Pvt Ltd, HT Digital Streams Limited, IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd, Jagran Prakashan Limited, Lokmat Media Private Limited, NDTV Convergence Limited, TV Today Network Limited, The Malayala Manorama Co (P) Ltd, Times Internet Limited, and Ushodaya Enterprises Private Limited.