IT rules have no teeth, can’t control OTT without law, says SC

The Centre on Friday informed the Supreme Court that it could contemplate bringing in a legislation or rules to manage OTT platforms, after the apex court docket mentioned that the not too long ago notified pointers in respect of those platforms “lacked teeth” to behave towards violators.

Before granting interim safety from arrest to Amazon Prime Video’s head of India Originals, Aparna Purohit, in reference to an FIR towards her over the Tandav internet sequence, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy requested the Centre for a replica of The Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. The Rules have been notified by the federal government on February 25 for regulating content material on these platforms.

After going via the Rules, the bench mentioned, “…there is no teeth, no power of prosecution. These are just guidelines. No mechanism to control… Without legislation you cannot control it.”

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who represented the Centre, then informed the bench that “the Government shall consider and take appropriate steps for regulation or legislation as may be found fit by the Government and the same shall be placed before the court”.

Appearing for Purohit, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi mentioned that she is just not concerned within the manufacturing, writing or course of the online sequence, and is merely an officer of the corporate which owns the platform on which the online sequence was launched.

Issuing discover on her plea, the bench granted her the reduction “subject to her co-operation with the investigation” and directed that “she shall appear before the Investigating Officer as and when required”.

The Allahabad High Court had on February 25 rejected her anticipatory bail plea stating that “…the fact remains that the applicant had not been vigilant and has acted irresponsibly, making her open to criminal prosecution in permitting streaming of a movie which is against the fundamental rights of the majority of citizens of this country and therefore, her fundamental right of life and liberty cannot be protected by grant of anticipatory bail to her in the exercise of discretionary powers of this court.”

It mentioned that the reference to the disclaimer concerning the present being fictional “cannot be considered to be a ground for absolving the applicant of permitting the streaming of an objectionable movie online”.

The HC additionally mentioned Purohit was granted interim safety from arrest on February 11 by the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court, “but she was not co-operating with the investigation” and that “…this conduct of the applicant shows that she has scant respect for the law of the land and her conduct further disentitles her to any relief from this court, since co-operation with investigation is a necessary condition for grant of anticipatory bail”.

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