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Delhi High Court to hear pleas against IT Rules 2021

The Supreme Court on Friday transferred to the Delhi High Court a batch of pleas pending before different high courts across the country challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

A bench of Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Prashant Kumar Mishra noted that several petitions were pending on the issue before different high courts including Karnataka, Madras, Calcutta, Kerala and Bombay high courts.

“In order to avoid contradictory judgments, the Union of India would wish to have all matters consolidated for analogous hearing. Since a large number of these cases are pending consideration before the Delhi High Court, we deem it appropriate to transfer the matters in various HCs to the Delhi HC,” the bench said.

The top court directed that all relevant paper books shall be transferred by the high courts to the Delhi High Court within four days.

The apex court passed the order on a transfer petition moved by the Union of India for consolidation of all petitions at one high court to avoid divergent opinions.

Advocate Rajat Nair, appearing for the Centre, submitted that the Delhi High Court is hearing five matters relating to the challenge to the 2021 Rules and it will be convenient for lawyers to appear before it.

The top court had in May 2022 stayed further proceedings before the high courts in matters involving challenge to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 or the Cable Television Networks (Amendment) Rules 2021.

According to amended Information Technology Rules, social media and streaming companies will be required to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist in investigations.

The 2021 Rules regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and social media intermediaries. PTI

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