The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to stay the Centre’s May 28 order seeking compliance from digital media portals The Wire and The Quint with the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021.
“The matter is pending before the regular division bench, no stay was granted. They are only implementing the notification on which there is no stay. There is no question of interim relief,” the High Court said.
The court posted the plea for hearing by the regular bench on July 7.
Meanwhile, it also sought a response from the Centre on a petition filed by Alt News, a fact-checking digital platform, challenging the IT Rules.
According to The Wire, arguing on behalf of the petitioners, senior counsel Nitya Ramakrishnan said the government will penalise them for non-compliance unless the court stays coercive action, as has been done by the Kerala High Court recently. “Though the information they are seeking by way of compliance is already in public domain and we have told them that, they are threatening us with coercive action,” she said.
The vacation bench of Justices C. Hari Shankar and Subramonium Prasad was hearing two petitions challenging the rules — one filed by the Foundation for Independent Journalism, a trust that owns news website The Wire, and Dhanya Rajendran, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The News Minute and The Wire Founding Editor MK Venu, and the other filed on March 19 by The Quint.
Submitting that the rules are “meant to be a ruse for the state to enter and directly control the content of digital news portals”, the websites had sought an urgent stay. They said the government was threatening coercive action for their non-compliance with Part III of the Rules, which seeks to establish a new regulatory regime with the government in a controlling position.