Supreme Court stays proceedings pending in HCs on pleas to regulate OTT platforms

The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the proceedings in High Courts in cases seeking regulation of content shown on over-the-top (OTT) platforms.

A Bench led by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud listed the case for hearing after the Holi break.

The hearing was based on a plea by the Centre to transfer the cases in the High Courts to the Supreme Court.

The Bench was informed by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that despite the apex court’s earlier order issuing notice on the transfer plea filed by the Centre to club all such petitions filed in various High Courts, the Punjab and Haryana High Court is still proceeding in the matter pending there.

Mr. Mehta said several fresh petitions were being filed in different High Courts on the issue.

A counter-affidavit filed by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in another case said Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021 provides a “comprehensive” mechanism to check content on OTT platforms.

The Ministry said the Rules was based on a globally recognised model and keeps a fine balance, considering the major audience these OTT platforms had while at the same time providing a healthy classification of content based on age groups.

Recently, another Supreme Court Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan had criticised the 2021 Rules as lacking teeth to punish violators or to screen offensive content.

Centre’s offer

In that case, Mr. Mehta, speaking on behalf of the Centre, had agreed to consider drafting new regulations or even legislation to address the concern raised by the court about OTT platforms.

The court had recorded in its order that the new Rules notified days back were “more in the nature of guidelines” and there was “no effective mechanism for screening or to take appropriate action” against violators.

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 11:25:03 AM |

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