Indian IT Ministry will have to share the reason behind blocking a satirical website. The government body blocked the website without sharing the proper reason with the owner. Moreover, MeitY will also have to conduct a hearing and actively involve the website owner.
It is probably the first-ever case where the Delhi High Court ordered the MeitY to provide details on the grounds of which it blocked the site. Furthermore, the IT ministry blatantly uses Rule 16 of the Blocking Rules, 2009 to refrain from sharing the censorship order.
Who is the person challenging the MeitY decision?
Mr. Tanul Thakur runs a satirical website “DowryCalculator” which MeitY banned without any prior notice. He approached the Delhi High Court with the assistance of IFF(Internet Freedom Foundation) and challenged the abrupt blocking decision. Moreover, Mr. Thakur was represented by Advocate Vrinda Bhandari who was assisted by a group of advocates.
Advocate Vrinda Bhandari succeeded in conveying the satirical nature of the website to the court. After that, the Delhi High Court ordered MeitY to provide a post-decisional hearing for Mr. Tanul Thakur. Moreover, the government body needs to share a copy of the original blocking order issued under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Blocking Rules, 2009.
Mr. Thakur expressed his joy about the decision to IFF and said, “It’s a heartening move because it removes the frustrating veil of opacity from the MEITY’s order – especially because it’s happened for the first time. I remain thankful, as always, to the Internet Freedom Foundation for its remarkable support and persistence.”
Why is it a historical decision?
MeitY uses Rule 16 of the Blocking Rules, 2009 to refrain from sharing the censorship order. The regulatory body also skips the proper reaching out procedure and conducting a trial before blocking a website. Recently, IFF filed an RTI which revealed that the Indian IT Ministry Blocked Over 6,000 URLs In 39 Meetings. In many cases, it doesn’t even inform the concerned owners about the decision.
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Now, MeitY will have to share the blocking order citing reasons why it blocked the DowryCalculator website. Furthermore, it will conduct a hearing which will allow the Petitioner to explain the reasons why the website should remain unblocked. What do you think about the Delhi High Court’s judgment? Is it unfair to ban websites without ensuring a fair trial? Share your thoughts in the comments.