Delhi HC refuses to give protection to digital platforms

On behalf of the portals, senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan urged the court to grant them interim protection as the Centre had not even filed its reply.

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to grant protection from coercive action to The Wire, Quint and other digital media portals that have challenged the new IT rules after the Centre said it has sought transfer of all such cases from various high courts to the Supreme Court.

“Transfer petition has been preferred?” a Bench led by Chief Justice DN Patel asked the government counsel.

As the government counsel replied in the affirmative, the Bench deferred the hearing on petitions filed by The Wire, Quint Digital Media Ltd and Pravda Media Foundation to August 20. It directed the Centre to file a counter affidavit.

As several petitions challenging the IT Rules, 2021, remain pending in various high courts, including the Delhi High Court, the Centre on Tuesday requested the Supreme Court to transfer to itself all such petitions to itself for an authoritative pronouncement on the issue.

Aimed at regulating social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and OTT players, the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, require them to put in place a complaint redressal mechanism with an officer based in India to deal with online contents flagged by the government authorities and courts. They are also required to assist police in investigations.

On behalf of the portals, senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan urged the court to grant them interim protection as the Centre had not even filed its reply.

Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma said “1,700 digital media platforms have already submitted information” as per the IT rules.

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