The Press Trust of India has moved the Delhi High Court challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules 2021) for being ultra vires of the Constitution and beyond the scope of the parent provision- The Information Technology Act, 2000. (Press Trust of India v. UOI).The petitioners prayed that Part III of the IT Rules be declared void in regulating publishers of news and current affairs content for being violative of Article 14, 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India and the Information Technology Act, 2000..“The Rules usher in an era of surveillance and fear, thereby resulting in self-censorship, which results in abridgment/violation of Fundamental Rights as enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India.”.The High Court issued notice to the Central government and posted the case for further consideration on August 20. .PTI is a news agency that provides national and international news content to various newspapers, television and radio networks, websites and others, subscribing to its services..The provisions under challenge lay down a three-tier regime to supervise news content. This consists of self-regulation, self-regulating body/bodies and an oversight mechanism by the Central Government..The provisions also reserve an emergency power with the Secretary of the Ministry of I&B to pass interim orders blocking any content without giving an opportunity of hearing.They also mandate reporting and lay down a code of ethics for publishers..The petitioner contended primarily that the Rules are ultra vires the Constitution, virtually dictating the content on digital news portals.The Petition said that online news portals have been clubbed with social media intermediaries and have been distinguished from print news media, “creating an artificial distinction between print news media and online news media which is otherwise absent, this clearly vitiates the mandate of Article 14 of the Constitution (equals cannot be treated unequally).”.The petitioner also contended that the Rules regulating digital media and publishers of online news and current affairs do not satisfy the “twin test”, a mandatory requirement under Article 14..Further, the Rules are argued to have travelled beyond the scope of reasonable restrictions under Article 19(2) since reasonable restrictions have to be interpreted narrowly and not broadly. Therefore, it violates Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.“These rules are only meant to be a weapon for the Executive or the State to enter and directly control the content of online digital news portal.”.The petition also drew attention to the method adopted to introduce the Rules, stating that they have been brought via a side door without debate or consultation with stakeholders.“It is an abuse of plenary powers enjoyed by the executive with the clear intent of choking the media, which is an anti-thesis to the principles of democracy,” the plea said. .The Rules are also touted to be violative of the Right to Privacy under Article 21 as the Rules require every intermediary of publisher of news and current affairs to maintain and submit the list of subscribers and users with the Central government along-with the Grievance Redressal Reports..The Petition relied on the judgment in Ajay Kumar Banerjee Vs. Union of India to established that the IT Rules are ultra vires of the IT Act, 2000..The plea was filed through Wasim Beg (Partner) and Swarnendu Chatterjee (Managing Associate), L&L Partners.