THE Madras High Court on Monday restrained the Central government from taking any coercive action against digital media firms under the code of ethics laid down in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021. The Rules were brought into effect in February this year, under the parent Information Technology Act.
The first bench of Acting Chief Justice M N Bhandari and Justice P D Audikesavalu gave the injunction when a new Public Interest Litigation (PIL) from the Indian Broadcasters and Digital Media Foundation came up for hearing today. The PIL challenged the provisions of the said Rules of 2021.”The respondents (Centre) are restrained from taking any coercive action without the permission of the Court,” the bench said and posted the matter for further hearing on January 25.
Earlier, the petitioner’s senior counsel alleged that the Centre was initiating penal action as per the provisions of the Rules, even though the Bombay High Court had granted an interim stay of the Rules, in August.
The Bombay High Court had on August 14 this year stayed the operation of sub-rules (1) and (3) of Rule 9 of the said Rules of 2021, on a petition moved by The Leaflet. Thereafter, the Central Government had also submitted before the Madras High Court that the Bombay High Court order has a pan-India effect.