By LE Staff

Mumbai, July 1, 2021: A journalist has moved the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the IT Rules passed by the Central government, contending that the said rules are ultra vires to the Constitution as the IT Act does not empower the government to regulate digital media.

Mumbai-based journalist Nikhil Mangesh Wagle, in his petition, contended that the IT Rules are arbitrary, illegal and contrary to the fundamental rights under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India and ultra vires the IT Act.

It was pleaded that the provision of Rule 7 grants excessive powers to the enforcement agencies to take action against intermediary making it liable for punishment under ‘any law for the time being in force’.

Anticipating serious repercussions due to initiation of criminal proceedings in cases of defamation or hurting of religious sentiments, the journalist claimed that compliance officers were bombarded with quasi-judicial powers of deciding what is defamatory and what is not.

The main contention on the petitioner’s side is that neither Section 87 nor the IT Act as a whole empowers the Union of India or the Ministry of IB to regulate digital news media and OTT Platforms.

While Section 3(1)(d) of Rules provides for ‘actual knowledge’ in the form of an order by a court or by the appropriate government on one hand, Rules 3(2)(b) and 4(4) seek to put the onus of removing information/content on the intermediaries instead of doing the same upon receiving the ‘actual knowledge’.

It was also contended by Wagle that the IT Act does not authorise the executive to bring in “sweeping changes” which had been brought into effect through delegated legislation.

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