The Kerala High Court on Friday passed an interim order in favour of the News Broadcasters Association in their challenge to the Centre’s new IT rules.
The single-judge bench of Justice PB Suresh Kumar issued notices to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, directing that no coercive action shall be taken against the news organisations that are part of the NBA for non-compliance of provisions under the new IT Rules.
In the petition, the News Broadcasters Association had stated that the new rules give government authorities excessive power to unreasonably restrict media rights.
Appearing for the NBA, senior advocate Maninder Singh told the high court that the IT Rules, 2021, were ultra vires to the parent Act. He reasoned that actions allowed to the government under the new rules were not permitted under the IT Act in the first place.
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Advocate Maninder Singh also challenged the three-tier oversight mechanism brought into place through the new rules. He stated that the government shall not be allowed to enter the domain of judicial powers, with a joint secretary-level official sitting over a decision of a retired high court or Supreme Court judge.
He highlighted before the bench that a similar order had been passed by the Kerala High Court earlier where protection against coercive action was granted to other digital media houses.
The Kerala High Court order comes in light of a transfer petition filed by the Centre before the Supreme Court, seeking to transfer all ongoing cases pertaining to the IT Rules to the top court for hearing. India Today