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Delhi High Court to hear pleas against IT rules on August 14

The Delhi High Court will hear on August 14 a batch of pleas challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.

The 2021 Rules regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, over-the-top (OTT) platforms and social media intermediaries. Under it, social media and streaming firms are required to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist in investigations.

The petitions, which were pending before different high courts across the country, were transferred to the Delhi High Court here by the Supreme Court.

‘Since similar petitions are listed on August 14, list on the same date,’ a bench of Delhi High Court’s Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Manmeet PS Arora said.

On March 22, the top court consolidated all petitions against the IT rules in different high courts including Karnataka, Madras, Calcutta, Kerala and Bombay, after the Central government filed a transfer petition to avoid divergent opinions.

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

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

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