The Bombay High Court on Friday reserved its interim verdict in the plea challenging the recently notified Information Technology (Guidelines for intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021). (AGIJ Promotion Of Nineteenonea Media Pvt. Ltd. & Anr. v. Union of India & Anr.).The petitioners before the Court include a digital news portal, Leaflet and a Mumbai Journalist Nikhil Mangesh Wagle..The petitioners had sought an interim stay on the application of the IT Rules, 2021 till the Writ Petition challenging the Rules was decided which was opposed by the Central government through the affidavit. .May lead to spread of fake news, illegal content: Central govt opposes stay on IT Rules 2021 before Bombay High Court.Both petitions claimed that the IT Rules, 2021 are contrary to the fundamental rights under Article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India and ultra vires the Information Technology (IT) Act.Another contention was that the IT Rules, 2021 had been issued after unlawfully delegating judicial powers to the executive and that it is an attempt to overrule a long line of precedents rendered by the Supreme Court..Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh argued that the prayers raise grievance against an Oversight Committee (internal committee of the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB)) which has not even been notified as of yet. He argued that there had been no instance of any order or action having been taken against any organisation under the Rules. .He argued that the grievances were redressed in a three tier manner: The grievance was raised before the publisher first;If not redressed, then it was raised before the self-regulating authority of the publishers and If there is still no redressal, then ultimately it would go before the Oversight Mechanism . .The Court mused whether a status quo is guaranteed with publishers who could be affected by the Rules, as the Rules were otherwise a "hanging sword on the head"."Fear of the Rules operating.. is a fear on the infringement of freedom of speech. Unless you have liberty of thought, how do you express yourself..? There are norms to be implemented, but one has to be humble in dealing with this. If one is not, will they be penalised?" CJ Datta pondered..The Court also asked whether new guidelines can be issued when there are pre-existing guidelines in place and whether the present Rules are an attempt to bring a substantive law through delegated legislation. "Under 69A (1) (ii) certain Rules have been framed in 2009.. We are thinking what was the necessity for Union to bring in subsequent Rules without superseding the prior Rules and create a substantive law through the rules?" CJ Datta contemplated. .The Bench also stated that by bring in the Rules with Code of Ethics, they were bringing something under delegated legislation which was already available with the parent Act and more. "Would it not entrench on the parent legislation?" the Bench enquired with the ASG..Senior Advocate Darius Khambata for Leaflet submitted that the short affidavit submitted by the Centre did not point out a single provision which could show how the Rules were issued. .He argued that Rule 9 was a violation of the right to freedom of speech when it compelled the writer and publisher to justify and defend his writing, which may not reflect both sides of an argument; and it has to be stayed by the Court. "In a constitutional democracy, that right to be wrong or inaccurate, to speak freely is important. It is an assault to the democracy," Khambata said concluding his arguments. .After hearing the parties on the interim prayers, Bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni reserved the pleas for orders stating that they will pronounce the verdict on August 14, 2021 at 5.30 pm.