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Constitutional Validity of Rule 3(i)(II)(A) and (C) of IT Rules 2021

  • Writ Petitions under Article 226: Writ Petitions filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India typically raise significant legal issues related to fundamental rights, such as freedom of speech and expression.
  • Challenge to the IT Rules: The petitioners challenged the constitutional validity of specific provisions within the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules 2023. These amendments modified Rule 3(1)(b)(v) of the IT Rules 2021.
  • Basis of Challenge: The petitioners argued that the impugned rule, Rule 3(i)(II)(A) and (C), violated several fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution of India, including Articles 14 (right to equality), 19(1)(a) and (g) (right to freedom of speech and expression), and 21 (right to life and personal liberty). They also contended that these rules were inconsistent with certain sections of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act), particularly Section 79 and Section 87(2)(z) and (zg).
  • Court's Dismissal: However, the Hon'ble Court dismissed the petition after considering the arguments presented. The court observed that Section 79 of the IT Act, which provides exemptions from liability for intermediaries, had previously been challenged in the Shreya Singhal case.
  • Precedent from Shreya Singhal Case: In the Shreya Singhal case, the court interpreted Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act to include only those matters related to restrictions outlined in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. This means that intermediaries are exempt from liability unless the content in question falls under the restricted categories specified in Article 19(2), such as defamation, incitement to violence, etc.
  • Application to the Impugned Rule: The court concluded that since the impugned rule did not impose restrictions beyond those outlined in Article 19(2) of the Constitution, it did not render Section 79 ineffective. Therefore, the court found that the impugned rule was not ultra vires (beyond the powers) of the constitutional provisions as alleged by the petitioners.

In summary, the court's decision rested on the interpretation of Section 79 of the IT Act in light of previous legal precedent, ultimately concluding that the impugned rule did not violate constitutional provisions.

Case Title: Association of Indian Magazines Vs Union of India
Order Date: 31.01.2024
Case No. Appeal from Order No.352 of 2021
Name of Court: Bombay High Court
Neutral Citation:Writ Petition (L) No. 9792 of 2023
Name of Hon'ble Judge: Anuja Prabhudessai H.J.

Ideas, thoughts, views, information, discussions and interpretation expressed herein are being shared in the public Interest. Readers' discretion is advised as these are subject to my subjectivity and may contain human errors in perception, interpretation and presentation of the fact and issue involved herein.

Written By: Advocate Ajay Amitabh Suman, IP Adjutor - Patent and Trademark Attorney
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9990389539

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