The Kerala High Court restrained the Centre from taking any coercive action against members of the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) under its new IT rules. The latter had filed a plea in the court against the Centre, stating that the new IT Rules grant excessive powers to the Central government to restrict freedom of speech and expression unreasonably of the media.
They also argued that the rules violate several constitutional rights like the right to equality before law and the right to practice any profession. The NBA is a consortium of 78 private television news and current affairs broadcasters.
Senior Advocate Maninder Singh said that the court had previously passed an order restraining the government from taking any coercive actions under the rules on a plea filed by a portal named LiveLaw. The NBA challenged part three of the new rules, titled 'Code of Ethics and Procedures and Safeguards in relation to Digital Media'.
'Chilling Effect' On Media
NBA's statement said that the grievance redressal mechanism created and the delegated powers have a 'chilling' effect' on the content of media publications. They emphasized in the writ that the executive had made inroads into judicial power and vested itself with powers exclusively reserved for the Judiciary.
A 'Programme Code' has been made apllicable for digital news media through the new IT Rules. The code contains vague, unspecific and ambiguous terms relating to the content, terming it under 'good taste' and 'snobbish attitude'. The petition said that the programme code is not in line with the Supreme Court's ruling. Several news organizations have contended that the new IT rules can fundamentally change how news and the internet are accessed and used by millions across the country.