The matter has been listed for further hearing in three weeks and the respondents have been asked to file their counter in two weeks.
The court also granted liberty to the petitioners, the Digital News Publishers Association and Former Editor of The Hindu, Mukund Padmanabhan to approach it if any coercive or arm twisting action is taken by the Centre.
The Digital News Publishers Association comprises 13 media outlets including the ABP Network, Express Network, NDTV Convergence, TV Today Network, Malayala Manorama and Times Internet.
Times Internet is the digital arm of the Times Group, which also publishes The Economic Times
On June 10, the Madras High court had issued notice to the Centre, giving it three weeks to respond to a petition filed by Carnatic music vocalist T M Krishna, challenging the new IT rules.
Appearing for the petitioners, senior advocate P S Raman made a distinction wherein he said that TM Krishna’s plea was more focused on the right to privacy whereas the media was concerned with how it is affected by Rules 12, 14 and 16 of the IT Rules 2021.
Raman said that the media is concerned about the inter-departmental body envisaged under Rule 14. He added that the inter-departmental body under this rule to which appeals against decisions of the self-regulatory body is made up of only bureaucrats.
“Since no adverse action has been initiated against the petitioners as of now, no omnibus order (has been) made at this stage. However if such provisions are resorted to against the petitioners, petitioners will be at liberty to apply for interim relief,” legal website Bar and Bench reported, quoting the order by the court.
TM Krishna in his petition had said that the rules offend his right as an artist and cultural commentator by both imposing a chilling effect on free speech and by impinging on his right to privacy
In May, WhatsApp filed a petition in the Delhi High Court against the “traceability” requirement in IT rules that mandates messaging platforms to trace the originator of a message that leads to rumours or violence. WhatsApp argued that it violated the constitutional right to privacy. Several digital media organisations have also filed petitions against the new rules.