The Delhi High Court Friday dismissed a PIL seeking regulation of online streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, after the Centre said they monitor or regulate online content only when the “interest of sovereignty and integrity of India” is in question.
The bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao further said that regulations are in place and the law did not require such platforms to acquire a licence.
The ruling came after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) told the bench that “online platforms are not required to obtain any licence from this ministry and the content on online platforms is not being regulated by this ministry”. The ministry, in its affidavit, also stated that the Ministry of Law and Justice is not concerned with the matter.
The ministry, through its central government standing counsel Vikram Jetly, was responding to the court’s November 2018 direction seeking to know whether broadcasting on online platforms is based on any licence or regulatory measures provided by the government or any regulatory body.
The PIL was filed by an NGO, Justice for Rights, in October 2018, which sought a ban on online platforms, including Netflix and Amazon Prime, till regulations are framed.
The I&B Ministry said they do not monitor or regulate content on internet, except for limited functions under section 69A (power to issue directions for blocking for public access of any information through any computer resource) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, adding that the particular case does not fall under this.
The petition, filed in October 2018, had alleged that the content of several shows on online platforms violated provisions of the Indian Penal code and the Information Technology Act. It had sought immediate court orders to remove legally restricted content from these portals.
The petition was filed weeks after the Delhi High Court, in August 2018, refused to issue directions to the producers of Netflix web series Sacred Games over a PIL that claimed certain dialogues in the show “defamed a former prime minister of the country”.
The High Court had questioned if such content regulation was within the jurisdiction of the court.