The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed proceedings pending before several High Courts on pleas related to the regulation of over-the-top, or OTT, platforms, reported Bar and Bench.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre, told a bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud that despite the court issuing a notice on the transfer plea filed by the Centre to club all such petitions, the Punjab and Haryana High Court was hearing the matter.
“Issuing notice on transfer plea automatically means stay on proceedings in High Court, isn’t it?” Justice Chandrachud said, adding that the court will stay further proceedings in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.
Mehta also told the court that several fresh petitions were being filed in different High Courts on the matter, reported PTI. The court responded that it will then stay proceedings before all high courts and listed the matter for hearing on the second week after Holi, which is on March 29.
The matter pertains to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, under the Information Technology Act, 2000. The government had notified the rules on February 25. The rules are framed to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content, virtually bringing them, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.
Under the rules, the OTT platforms like Netflix and Amazon will have to set up a mechanism for addressing any grievances. While films have a censor board, OTT platforms will be required to self-classify their movies and content based on age. Detailed classification of content on the basis of age, sex, violence and nudity will also have to be listed.
The rules would force streaming services to submit to the authority of an appeals body headed by a retired High Court or Supreme Court justice. If this body believes that the content violates the law, it would be empowered to send the content to a government-controlled committee for blocking orders to be issued.