The Supreme Court on 29 April to examine the validity of Information Technology Rules making it mandatory for a website owner to screen content and exercise online censorship of the contents posted on the portal.
A bench of justices T S Thakur and S J Mukhopadhaya issued the notice to the Centre and all the states on a PIL filed by a company Mouthshut.com India) Pvt, which runs a portal mouthshut.com, challenging Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011.
The company pleaded with the apex court that the rules be declared as illegal, null and void as they are ultravires of the Constitution.
"It is submitted that the impugned Rules impose significant burden on it forcing it to screen content and exercise online censorship which in turn impacts the freedom of speech and expression of its customers thereby risking a loss of its large consumer base or incurring legal costs and facing criminal action for third party user-generated content," the petitioner said.
It said at least 80 lakhs users visit the website every month and it is impossible to screen all the contents and it cannot take responsibility for the accuracy, legality or applicability of anything said or written by any member.
"Any opinion expressed by a member are those of a member alone and are not to be attributed to MouthShut.com," it said adding "There is an automated algorithm which checks the content for expletives but its accuracy and completeness cannot be trusted".
"It is submitted that its official policy is to only remove content if ordered by a court of competent jurisdiction or on a written request signed by a competent authority of the government in view of any unlawful content," it said.