“You cannot bring a hammer to kill an ant,” said the Bombay High Court on Friday while hearing petitions challenging the amended IT Rules against fake content on social media, according to Bar and Bench.
The division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale said the changes may be “excessive”, and also questioned who will fact-check the fact checking unit that is to be set up under the amended Rules.
“There is an assumption that what the FCU says is undeniably the ultimate truth… In the democratic process, the essence of discourse is the government is as much a participant as a citizen. It is not a repository of truth that cannot be questioned. It is a fundamental right to doubt, to question, to demand answers from the government and it is the duty of the government to respond.”
The court said that it finds it difficult that one authority will be given absolute power to decide what is fake, false, and misleading.
The petitions were filed by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, the Editors Guild of India and the Association of Indian Magazines, terming the rules as arbitrary and unconstitutional. Kamra had also claimed that the amendment will have a “chilling effect” on the fundamental rights of citizens.
The amendment, originally notified on April 6, said social media companies and other intermediaries must take down content deemed fake by a government fact-check unit. It was widely criticised by press groups, opposition leaders and journalists. Kamra’s plea, filed a few days later, said the rules “have a chilling effect and are enough to chill people”.
Newslaundry has reported on length on the controversies surrounding the amendment and why it’s a blow for press freedom. Read about it here.
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