New IT rules dont seem to protect parody or satire, says HC

The new Rules require social media intermediaries to censor or otherwise modify content that relates to the Central government, if a government-mandated ‘fact checking body’ directs them to do so.

Published - April 24, 2023 03:43 pm IST - Mumbai

The Bombay High Court said the IT Amendment Rules, 2023 does not seem to offer protection to fair criticism of the govt. through parody or satire.

The Bombay High Court said the IT Amendment Rules, 2023 does not seem to offer protection to fair criticism of the govt. through parody or satire. | Photo Credit: Vivek Bendre

The Bombay High Court on Monday said the Information Technology (IT) Amendment Rules, 2023 does not seem to offer protection to fair criticism of the government through parody or satire.

A division bench of justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale was hearing a plea by political satirist Kunal Kamra challenging the constitutional validity of the IT (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 calling them “ arbitrary, violating fundamental rights of speech and expression and vague.”

Also read:New IT Rules provide an evidence-based-fact-checking system for fake news, says Centre

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology had filed an affidavit stating the Central government will only direct removal of false or misleading information pertaining to government policies and programmes as false news travelled six times faster than truth.

The court however remarked, “You (Centre) are not affecting parody, satire, that is what your affidavit says. That is not what your rules say. There is no protection granted. That we will have to see,”

Senior advocate Navroz Seervai appearing for Mr. Kamra argued, “They (Centre) are saying that the government action cannot be scrutinised. Can they say that in a democracy? People in this country are scared, when they shouldn’t be in a rule of law”, he questioned.

Explained | The amendments to the IT Rules, 2021

The additional solicitor general Anil Singh however said, “The notification has not been notified. Once it is done, they can move at any time.

The court said the Rules have been notified and posted the matter to be heard on April 27.

The new Rules require social media intermediaries to censor or otherwise modify content that relates to the Central government, if a government-mandated ‘fact checking body’ directs them to do so.

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