An update on the challenges to IT Rules, 2021

On 25th February 2021, the Government of India notified IT Rules, 2021. We provided detailed analysis back then, which pointed out the rules were unconstitutional, undemocratic and undermined freedom of speech and expression.

Since then, several individuals, organizations and companies have challenged the validity of these rules across various High Courts. IFF has provided legal assistance to LiveLaw Media Pvt. Ltd. and Mr TM Krishna before the Kerala High Court and Madras High Court.

I write this post to update you on the status of all of these challenges, which are summarised in this table.

To our knowledge, challenges to the rules are pending in the Bombay High Court, Delhi High Court, Calcutta High Court, Orissa High Court and the two High Courts mentioned above.

One of the first challenges was instituted in the Delhi High Court by the Wire. Incidentally, that challenge, along with connected matters was listed for hearing today. However, the Court could not hear these cases and has listed them for 12th October 2021. Notably, WhatsApp and Facebook have also filed their challenge to Rule 4(2) of IT Rules, 2021, before the Delhi High Court. Those challenges are listed for 22nd October 2021.

As mentioned above, IFF has provided legal assistance to LiveLaw Media Pvt Ltd in their challenge to the IT Rules, 2021, before the Kerala High Court. On 10th March 2021, the Kerala High Court issued an order restraining the government from taking coercive steps against LiveLaw under Part III of the Rules.

Kerala High Court is not the only court that has granted an interim order in favour of petitioners challenging the Rules. The Bombay High Court, which is hearing challenges filed by the Leaflet and Mr Nikhil Wagle on 14th August 2021, has stayed Rule 9(1) and Rule 9(3) of IT Rules, 2021 on the ground that they prima facie violated the freedom of speech and expression. The BHC has listed these cases for the final hearing on 27th September 2021. We have provided a detailed explanation of the decision here.

The petitions in Madras High Court are listed for 3rd September 2021, where IFF is advising Mr TM Krishna, a prominent musician. Only recently, the Government has replied to the petition filed by Mr Krishna. We will soon provide detailed updates on the Government’s stance on our website.

Apart from the proceedings in the High Courts, the Government of India has moved the Supreme Court seeking a transfer of all the petitions pending in High Courts across the country. We have provided details of one of the transfer petitions here.

Clearly, a lot is going on across the country concerning these rules. We will continue to stay on top of any developments. But please let us know if you have any updates on the Rules. We are also available in case you have any questions.