The Supreme Court will hear on July 16 the Centre’s petition to transfer pleas filed in High Courts against the new Information Technology (Guidelines for Intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, Live Law reported.

The High Courts of Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Kerala have been hearing petitions challenging the regulations. The new rules seek to regulate social media companies, streaming and digital news content, virtually bringing them, for the first time, under the ambit of government supervision.

On Tuesday, the Centre had urged the Supreme Court to transfer these petitions to itself to avoid multiplicity of proceedings and to “ensure uniformity in the consideration of the rules under challenge”.

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On Friday, a bench comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and Sanjiv Khanna tagged the Centre’s plea with a pending special leave petition. “We will not pass that order today,” the judges said, according to Bar and Bench. “We are just tagging and list before appropriate bench on July 16,” the Court said.

Earlier on Friday, the Kerala High Court heard the News Broadcasters Association’s petition against the digital media rules. It ordered that no coercive action be taken against the association for not complying with the rules and issued a notice to the Centre on the petition.

The Delhi High Court has been hearing two petitions challenging the regulations. One of the petitions was filed by the Foundation for Independent Journalism, a trust that owns news website The Wire, Dhanya Rajendran, the founder and editor-in-chief of The News Minute and The Wire Founding Editor MK Venu. The other plea was filed by news website The Quint. Media outlets have argued that the rules will allow the government to directly control their content.

On Wednesday, the court had refused to provide interim protection from coercive action to these media outlets.

News agency Press Trust of India has also moved the Delhi High Court against the Centre’s new rules. In its petition filed on Wednesday, PTI argued that the regulations would bring in an era of surveillance and fear in the country, “thereby resulting in self-censorship, which results in abridgment/ violation of Fundamental Rights as enshrined under Part III of the Constitution of India”.

On June 23, the Madras High Court heard a petition filed by Digital News Publishers Association, an organisation of 12 digital media outlets, along with journalist Mukund Padmanabhan. Their plea stated that organisations that only run online publications should fall under the ambit of the new information technology rules. The court had issued a notice to the Centre on this matter.