A Madras High Court bench of Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy adjourned the hearing of a PIL filed against the Fact Checking Unit (FCU) set up by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government to 6 December.
The PIL was filed by R Nirmal Kumar, the joint secretary of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam's (AIADMK) IT Wing.
The decision to adjourn the hearing was taken after Senior Counsel Vijay Narayan, who represented the petitioner informed the Court that the Bombay High Court was expected to give its verdict in a similar case on 1 December.
According to a report by The Hindu, Narayan told the court that the state government had made a statement in the Assembly about establishing a social media cell in the Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) but had gone on to create an FCU, which could be created only the Centre under the Information Technology Act and the rules framed under it.
When questioned by the Chief Justice as to what was wrong in creating an FCU, Narayan said that it could become an agency to impose censorship and curb free speech, stated the report.
Further, he said that while the government had created 80 posts and appointed a Mission Director for the FCU, it had not publicised the recruitment process.
Senior Counsel PS Raman and Additional Advocate General J Ravindran informed the Court that eight posts had been filled till the time of hearing and said that the FCU was necessary because of fake news like Biharis being killed in the state.
Ravindran also said that the plea is not maintainable and the petitioner had no locus standi, as he himself was facing two cases for spreading fake news.
In the plea, Kumar had alleged that the government had appointed a DMK supporter Iyan Karthikeyan as the Mission Director and sought the Court to declare the G.O. establishing the FCU as unconstitutional and grant an interim injunction to restrain Karthikeyan from continuing in the post.
S Rajesh is Staff Writer at Swarajya.
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