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The division bench said that the statement of not notifying FCU was not an interim order but a statement made by the Solicitor General.
Justice AS Chandurkar is the third judge who will give his opinion on the split verdict given by the division bench of the high court in petitions challenging the amended IT Rules that established the Fact Check Unit (FCU) to identify fake, false, and misleading content on social media.
The division bench of the high court comprising Justice GS Patel and Justice Neela Gokhale delivered a split verdict in the petitions challenging Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023.
In the split verdict, Justice Patel struck down the amended rule establishing FCU while Justice Gokhale ruled against the petitioners.
Chief Justice Devendra K Upadhyaya of the Bombay High Court passed an order on 7th February assigning Justice AS Chandurkar as the third judge to give his opinion on the challenge to IT Rules.
The division bench of high court passed the judgement in the petitions filed by stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, the Editors Guild, the News Broadcast Digital Association and the Association of Indian Magazine challenging the constitutionality of the fact check unit established under the amended IT Rules.
On January 31, the bench passed an order on the assurance of SG Tushar Mehta that the Fact Check Unit will not be notified for 10 days until the matter is referred to the third judge.
As the petition had not yet been assigned to a third judge, the petitioners filed an interim application to extend the statement of the central government not to notify the FCU.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the Ministry of Electronics, Information, and Technology, informed the bench today that the FCU would not be notified until the third judge takes up the application for an interim stay on notifying FCU.
Senior Advocate Navroz Seervai, representing Kamra, contended that it is the division bench of the high court that would have jurisdiction to decide on the continuation of the statement of not notifying FCU.
However, the division bench said that the statement of not notifying FCU was not an interim order but a statement made by the Solicitor General.
“The interim applications in our view, need to be decided by the reference judge as well since we are not between ourselves, in agreement on the continuance of the previous status. We specifically state that even today we have not agreed on the continuance of ad-interim or interim relief,” the court said.
Case title: Kunal Kamra & Ors vs UOI
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