New IT rules : Supreme Court to hear govt.’s transfer plea on July 16

The government petition is likely to come up before a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.   | Photo Credit: S. Subramanium

The Supreme Court on Friday listed for July 16 a government petition to transfer the cases challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, from various High Courts to itself.

A Bench of Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna tagged the plea to a pending special leave petition titled ‘Justice for Rights Foundation versus Union of India’. Justice Khanwilkar said the case would be listed before an appropriate Bench on July 16.

The government petition is likely to come up before a Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.

The ‘Justice for Rights Foundation’ case, pending before the Justice Chandrachud-led Bench, primarily concerns the regulation of content shown on the over-the-top (OTT) platforms. The Bench has been examining the issue in the backdrop of the new IT Rules. On March 23 last, it stayed all proceedings in High Courts on the issue.

The government has said in the Supreme Court that the Rules provide a “comprehensive” mechanism to check the content on OTT platforms. It was stated in a recent affidavit that the Rules were based on a globally recognised model.

The current transfer petition deals primarily with cases in High Courts challenging the regulatory framework for social media intermediaries in the Rules. One of them is being heard in the Delhi High Court and concerns Twitter. Recently, the government informed the court that Twitter has failed to comply with the law regulating tech companies rendering their services as ‘intermediaries’.

Ministry’s affidavit

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, in an affidavit filed before the court, stated that despite three months granted to all Significant Social Media Intermediaries (SSMIs) to comply with the Rules, Twitter failed to fully comply with the same.

The Rules mentions a September 2019 Supreme Court order as one of the reasons to justify its existence. In this order, the court expressed deep concern over the utilisation of social media for committing crime. It felt that some messages on social media even threatened national sovereignty. It was in this context, it called for a “properly framed regime” to allow the government to get information about first originators of messages from “significant” social media intermediaries with end-to-end encryption technology like WhatsApp.

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Printable version | Sep 21, 2021 7:38:03 PM |

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