Madras HC issues notice to Meity, MIB on plea challenging intermediary rules

The notice was issued on a plea filed by Carnatic music vocalist, cultural critic, and writer T. M. Krishna

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jun 11, 2021 5:37 PM
Meity - MIB

The Madras High Court has issued a notice to centre on a plea challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules 2021 or the intermediary rules. The notice was issued on a plea filed by Carnatic music vocalist, cultural critic, and writer T. M. Krishna.

According to Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF), the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (Meity) and the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) have been provided three weeks to file their counter affidavit, and the matter will be heard after four weeks.

The writ petition was filed before the Madras High Court on June 7, 2021, and came up for hearing before a division bench led by the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on June 10, 2021. Krishna was represented by a team led by Advocate Suhrith Parthasarthy and consisting of Advocate Surasika Parthasarthy. The IFF provided legal assistance in the drafting and filing of the petition through Advocates Vrinda Bhandari, Abhinav Sekhri, Sanjana Srikumar, Tanmay Singh, and Krishnesh Bapat.

The writ petition came up for hearing before the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court on June 10, 2021. At the hearing, Krishna's counsel argued that the Rules impinge the fundamental rights of the Petitioner, and are ultra vires the parent act.

The petition challenges the Intermediaries Rules on five major grounds: Violation of freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution; Violation of the freedom to practice any profession under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution; Violation of the fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution; The Rules are manifestly arbitrary and suffer from the excessive delegation, thus violating Article 14 of the Constitution; and The 2021 Rules are ultra vires the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The plea also stated that the Intermediary Rules 2021 are particularly harmful to musicians, artists, and creators such as Mr. Krishna, since the chilling effect they create “tends to altogether quell the creative process and makes it impossible for a person to think imaginatively, beyond conventional boundaries, and create art that is politically and socially salient.”

Privacy also is an essential component of an artist’s rights since “without the protection of privacy it is impossible for an artist to perform freely. The creative process, which might involve challenging existing social norms, whether it is norms concerning political views, views about religion, caste, and social life, or existing mores governing obscenity and sexuality, requires a space that is wholly secluded and private.”

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