Delhi HC's Justice Bhambhani recuses from hearing plea of digital news platforms against new IT Rules

Jun 21, 2021

New Delhi [India], June 21 : Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani of Delhi High Court recused himself from hearing the petition of several digital news platforms including Quint, The Wire, and others challenging the newly enforced Information Technology Rules, 2021.
Fresh applications of the petitioners and organisations were listed for hearing on Monday before the Division Bench of Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Justice Jasmeet Singh. As the matter come for hearing, Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani said that he is recusing himself from the hearing and posted the matter for next Monday before another vacation bench.
Senior Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan appeared for the petitioners on Monday.
Special categorisation has been created in the Rules which has put an additional regulatory burden on news media and current affairs, she earlier had argued.
The Delhi High Court had earlier issued a notice in March to the Centre through its concern ministries on the pleas.
The petition of The Wire news portal had challenged the vires of The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which were notified by the Central Government.
The newly notified rules, regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, over-the-top (OTT platforms), and social media intermediaries. The plea has been moved by The Quint and the Foundation of Independent Journalism, which owns "The Wire", a digital news website.
Another plea challenging IT rules 2021, filed by Sanjay Singh, a practicing lawyer earlier stated the intermediary is brought under tremendous pressure to remove content that purportedly does not comply with the rules and to immediately block access to the user on its own.
"Otherwise, when it receives directions from a government agency or a competent court regarding any information on the purported ground of it being unlawful, the intermediary has to remove such content or block access to it within 36 (thirty-six) hours or face punishment upto seven years of imprisonment according to amended IT rules, social media and streaming companies will be required to take down contentious content quicker, appoint grievance redressal officers and assist in investigations," the PIL said.