In a blow to petitioners and proponents of free speech on the internet, the Delhi High Court on Monday refused to put a stay order on the Centre's new Information and Technology (IT) Rules. The latter have been aimed at establishing a system of regulation for new media and digital news platforms.
Several petitioners including Foundation for Independent Journalism, news portals like the The Wire, Quint Digital Media Ltd and Pravda Media Foundation, parent company of Alt News had sought a stay on the Information technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, on the ground that a fresh notice has been issued to them to comply with the rules or else coercive action will be taken.
The court, however, refused to stay the new rules, stating that it was not in agreement with the petitioners on passing such an order at this stage.
A vacation bench of Justices C Hari Shankar and Subramonium Prasad said the notice has been issued to them only for implementation of notification on which there was no stay.
"We are not in agreement with you. If you want we will pass a reasoned detailed order or if you want we can renotify it before the roster bench. You take instructions and let us know," the bench said.
After taking instructions, senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan, representing the news portals, urged the court to list the matter on reopening of courts after vacations.
The court listed the applications for stay before the roster bench on July 7.
According to amended IT rules, social media and streaming companies will be required to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist in investigations.
Meanwhile, the court issued notice and sought response of the Centre on a fresh petition by Pravda Media Foundation challenging the vires of IT Rules.
(With inputs from PTI)