The Centre has informed the Bombay High Court that it will delay the notification of the 'Fact Check Unit' (FCU) under the amended Information Technology (IT) Rules until 4 September, a report by a news wire agency said.
The FCU is intended to identify and flag fake content on social media related to the government.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta has requested the court to adjourn the previously scheduled dates for the Centre to present its arguments justifying the new IT Rules.
The division bench of Justices Gautam Patel and Neela Gokhale will consider this request. A number of petitions challenging the amended IT Rules are being heard by the bench.
Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, the Editors Guild of India, and the Association of Indian Magazines have filed petitions against the Rules, arguing that they are arbitrary, unconstitutional, and infringe upon the fundamental rights of citizens.
The advocates representing the petitioners have completed their arguments, and the court has scheduled further hearings on 27 July and 28 July, for Mehta to present his arguments.
Mehta requested the court to schedule the matter for the end of August.
He explained, "I am faced with a difficulty as the constitutional bench of the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments on matters related to Article 370, which granted a special status to Jammu and Kashmir, starting from 2 August. I need to make some preparations for that."
Taking Mehta's concerns into consideration, the bench agreed to hear the petitions on 31 August and 1 September.
Additionally, Mehta stated that the union government's statement regarding the non-notification of the FCU would remain in effect until 4 September.
After the petitions were filed in April of this year, the Centre informed the court that it would not notify the FCU until July. However, as the court began hearing arguments in the pleas, the statement was repeatedly extended.
On 6 April of this year, the union government introduced amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021.
These amendments included the provision for a fact-checking unit to identify and flag fake, false, or misleading online content related to the government.
The three petitions presented to the court requested a declaration of the amended rules as unconstitutional. Additionally, the petitioners sought a directive for the government to refrain from taking action against any individual under these rules.
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