1 Aug 2023 8:15 AM GMT
The Uttarakhand High Court last week dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea 'IN LIMINE' which challenged the vires of new amendment to Information Technology Rules [Rule - 3 (i) (II) (C) of 2023 IT Amendment Rules] that empower the Central Government to identify 'Fake News' about itself in social media.The bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal observed...
The Uttarakhand High Court last week dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea 'IN LIMINE' which challenged the vires of new amendment to Information Technology Rules [Rule - 3 (i) (II) (C) of 2023 IT Amendment Rules] that empower the Central Government to identify 'Fake News' about itself in social media.
The bench of Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rakesh Thapliyal observed that it was 'not inclined to entertain' the PIL plea as it involved a challenge to a Central Legislation, 'in a vacuum'.
"To be able to appreciate the challenge, we are of the view that it is necessary that we should have an actual fact situation before us, to see what the impact of the law, which is under challenge, is in the facts of the case," the Court further noted as it dismissed the PIL plea 'in limine'.
The PIL plea, filed by one Satya Dev Tyagi through Advocate Dr. Kartikey Hari Gupta challenged Rule 3(i)(II)(C) of the 2023 amendment, promulgated by the Ministry of Electronics and IT (MeitY) in April this year.
The plea essentially sought to declare the impugned rules as ultra vires of Articles - 14, 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India and Section - 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. It also sought a direction to the Union Government to not implement the said rule.
It may be noted that the impugned rule empowers the to notify a fact check unit of the Central Government that will identify fake or false or misleading online content in respect to any business of the Central Government.
The effect of this amendment is that the social media sites (Facebook, Twitter etc.) and telecom service providers have to inform the user not to host, display, upload, modify, publish, transmit, store, update or share any information in respect of any business of the Central Government, that is identified as fake or false or misleading by such fact check unit.
The said rule mandates that the online intermediaries will have to take down any online content that the ministry-appointed fact-checking body marks as 'fake' or 'misleading.
A division bench of the Bombay High Court is presently hearing a batch of petitions challenging Rule 3(i)(II)(C) of the IT Amendment Rules, 2023. The petitions have been filed by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, the Editor's Guild, and the Association of Indian Magazines.
Hearing the pleas on April 24, the Bombay High Court observed that the new amendment to IT Rules 2022 prima facie lacks the necessary safeguards.
The Centre, in a detailed affidavit in response to Kamra’s petition, has submitted that if a social media or news website continues hosting information the Government’s Fact Checking Unit (FCU) flags as ‘false’ or ‘misleading’, it will have to defend itself before a court if action is taken.
On July 16, the High Court orally remarked that the government itself is a participant in the democracy who has to answer citizens’ doubts about itself, and thus the power of the Centre’s fact-checking unit (FCU) to identify fake news about the government is “difficult”.
Case title - SATYA DEV TYAGI Vs. UNION OF INDIA AND ANOTHER
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