Carnatic musician TM Krishna on Thursday moved the Madras High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the new Information Technology rules introduced by the central government.
In his plea, he stated that the Information Technology (Guidelines For Intermediaries And Digital Media Ethics Code Rules), 2021, is imposing “arbitrary, vague and unreasonable” restrictions. It is violative of his fundamental rights and offends his rights as an artist and a cultural commentator by both imposing a chilling effect on free speech and by impinging on his right to privacy.
A Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy admitted the plea and has ordered the Centre to file a response within three weeks, reported Bar and Bench. The hearing will be held in four weeks.
The petition, which has been drafted by the Internet Freedom Foundation of India (IFFI), has sought the court to direct that the new rules be declared as ‘unconstitutional and ultra vires’ to the Information Technology Act of 2000.
In the petition, TM Krishna stated that to him, privacy, like the music itself, is an experience. When he thinks of privacy, he thinks of life, intimacy, experience, discovery, security, happiness, the lack of fear and the freedom to create. “I think of liberty, dignity and choice as facets inherent in me and not just as an artist but as a human being,” he added.
Since he is interested in exploring the boundaries of Carnatic music and take his art form beyond its existing, narrow social confines, he asks difficult questions. Hence, he stated in his petition: “My apprehension today is that the work that I produce in trying to reshape art and in dissenting from the conventional mores of society will fall foul of the Code of Ethics contained in the Impugned Rules”. And, added that publishers of online curated content, facing the threat of sanctions imposed by Part III of the rules, are likely to err on the side of caution.
The petition also discussed the Supreme Court judgement in the KS Puttaswamy v Union of India case, in which privacy was held to be a fundamental right. TM Krishna’s plea stated that he took “special joy” in the Honourable SC judgement, when it recognised that the right to privacy was implicit in the guarantee of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21, noted Bar and Bench.
A number of challenges have already been made against the IT Rules, 2021 in various High Courts across the country. In March this year, the Delhi High Court had issued notice in the plea filed by the Foundation of Independent Journalism.