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Sunday, August 01, 2021

No coercive action against News Broadcasters Association for not following new IT rules: Kerala HC

The NBA has challenged the IT Rules on grounds that they give government authorities “excessive powers’ to "unreasonably and impermissibly restrict" the freedom of speech and expression of the media.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: July 9, 2021 5:32:51 pm
Justice PB Suresh Kumar passed the judgment on Friday. (File Photo)

The Kerala High Court on Friday ruled that no coercive action should be taken against the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) for now for not following the new IT rules.

“The respondents shall not take any coercive action against the petitioners for non- compliance of the provisions contained in Part III of the IT Rules, as the petitioners are news broadcasters,” Justice PB Suresh Kumar stated in the order, according to Bar and Bench.

The NBA has challenged the IT Rules on grounds that they give government authorities “excessive powers’ to “unreasonably and impermissibly restrict” the freedom of speech and expression of the media.

In a statement, the NBA said the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines & Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, violate Article 14 of the Constitution on equality before law and Article 19 on the right to freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business.

The petition says the new rules create an “oversight mechanism giving the executive unfettered, unbridled and excessive powers to regulate content of digital news media”.

“The grievance redressal mechanism created and the powers delegated have a ”chilling effect” on the content of the media. The writ (petition) also states that the executive by creating such a structure, has made inroads into judicial power and vested itself with powers reserved exclusively for the judiciary and such exercise of power is without jurisdiction,” the NBA statement said.

The 2021 rules regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and social media intermediaries. According to the rules, a ‘significant social media intermediary’ has some additional obligations in comparison to other social media intermediaries.

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