Bombay HC stays provisions of IT rules for digital media pertaining to adherence to ‘Code of Ethics’

The Bombay High Court Saturday stayed provisions of the Information Technology Rules, 2021 which mandate that digital news media and publishers should adhere to the “Code of Ethics” as prescribed by the Rules.

The High Court said that rules 9(1) and 9(3) of the IT (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 infringe the fundamental right to freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) and was against the substantive provisions of the IT Act, 2002, Live Law reported.

However, the bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Dutta and Justice GS Kulkarni refused to stay rules 14 and 16 of the IT Rules, 2021.

While Rule 14 deals with the constitution of an inter-departmental committee as an oversight mechanism over digital media, rule 16 pertains to the power of the Centre to block access to content.

The Bombay High Court had on Friday reserved its interim orders in two pleas challenging the recently notified Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The petitioners, while seeking quashing of the new rules, have demanded interim relief by staying the rules pending hearing of their pleas.

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