- Background: In early February, the Delhi High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation by the Justice For Rights Foundation that prayed for separate guidelines to regulate content on online streaming platforms.
- Jumping on the bandwagon: Following suit, in line with Justice For Rights, another case was dismissed before the Delhi High Court filed by Nikhil Bhalla. However, there still exist similar cases in the Delhi, Bombay and Karnataka High Court that need to look to the rationale in Justice for Rights.
The public interest litigation filed by the Justice for Rights Foundation in the Delhi High Court asking for separate guidelines to regulate content on online streaming platforms was dismissed on February 8, 2019. The Court agrees with the stand taken by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) that the Information Technology Act is a robust enough legislation requiring no additional guidelines or regulation.
A similar case was filed in the Delhi High Court by advocate Nikhil Bhalla with reference to a dialogue demeaning the former Prime Minister of India, Rajiv Gandhi. It prayed for framing of guidelines for content considered "vulgar and offensive". Access a copy of the petition uploaded by Medianama, here. Thankfully, the Hon'ble Delhi High Court has once again upheld the right to freedom of speech and expression as it dismissed the case by Nikhil Bhalla relying on the judgement in the Justice For Rights Case on April 9, 2019 (Read the judgement here). It continues to regard the provisions of the Information Technology Act, 2000 an adequate legislation to provide for deterrent action to be taken and respond to complaints received.
While the Hon'ble Delhi High Court has progressively worked its way through the cases, sole Un-canned Media v. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting & Ors (W.P. (C) No. 10724/2016) remains to be put to rest. It requests that Respondents disseminating "offensive and vulgar content" be prohibited from delivering content. Similarly, we informed you of another Public Interest Litigation where Padmanabh Shankar v. Union of India & Ors (W.P. 6050/2019) approached the Karnataka High Court seeking regulation of online video streaming (Read more here). Finally, in Divya Ganeshprasad Gontia v. Union of India (Public Interest Litigation No. 127/2018), the High Court of Bombay prays for a similar style of television censorship to be ported to the online platform.
We continue to hope that the cases that remain, will be adjudged with the same reasoning as the Justice for Rights judgement. It will work to the better health of digital platforms and in the maintaining of the free and open internet.