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Madras HC stays 2 sub-rules of Rule 9 in new Information Technology Rules

- September 16, 2021

Chennai, Sep 16 (IANS)

The Madras High Court has put a stay on two sub-rules under Rule 9 of the IT Rules 2021 that were recently notified. The court stayed sub-rules (1) and (3) which provide for a three tier structure for addressing the grievances made in relation to publishers, under the Code of Ethics which is annexed to the IT Rules, 2021. 
A Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Judtice PD Audikesavulu passed the order on two petitions that were filed challenging the validity of IT Rules 2021.
Carnatic musician TM Krishna had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, while the Digital News Publishers Association, and journalist Mukund Padmanabhan had also filed a writ petition in the matter.
“There is a substantial basis to the petitioners’ assertion that there may be a violation of Article 19 (1)(a) (of the Constitution) in how the Rules may be coercively applied to intermediaries. Accordingly, if there is any action taken in terms of Rules 3 of the said Rules read with (Rule) 7 thereof, it will abide by petition”, the Court observed.
Rule 3 deals with “due diligence by an intermediary.”
Rule 7 provides that if an intermediary fails to abide by the IT Rules, it would not be granted the protective exemption under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. In such a scenario, the intermediary “shall be liable for punishment under any law for the time being in force including the provisions of the Act and the Indian Penal Code”, Rule 7 states.
Earlier, the same sub-rules of Rule 9, had been stayed by the Bombay High Court on August 14.
With the Supreme Court scheduled to take up transfer petitions next month, the Madras High Court posted further hearing of the case to October 27.