Left-wing propaganda site The Wire was once against caught peddling fake news, this time on the newly announced guidelines under the IT Act for digital media outlets. However, their lie was fact-checked by Press Information Bureau’s Fact Check arm. PIB refuted The Wire’s claim that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting constituted the panel over sighting the content’s self-regulation.
The Wire: A retired judge appointed from a panel prepared by @MIB_India will head the self-regulatory body under IT Rules#PIBFactCheck: Fake!— PIB Fact Check (@PIBFactCheck) March 3, 2021
The body would be constituted by publishers & not MIB or a panel by MIB. It can be headed by a retired SC/HC judge or an eminent person pic.twitter.com/fb2HRlJFs5
PIB said, “The body would be constituted by publishers & not MIB or a panel by MIB. It can be headed by a retired SC/HC judge or an eminent person.”
What did The Wire say?
In its report titled “Why the New IT Rules Beg Urgent Judicial Review”, The Wire claimed “Rules 10, 11 and 12 require intermediaries to establish a two-tier “self-regulation” mechanism and be subject to an “oversight” mechanism by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MI&B).”
It further added, “while the body constituted at the second level of the self-regulating mechanism is being touted to be independent, in reality, it does away with all notions of independence as such a body is to be headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or a high court-appointed from a panel prepared by the MI&B. The intermediary rules are silent on the modalities of the constitution of such a panel. This allows the MI&B to appoint partisan retired judges to head such a body.”
What do Rule 10, 11 and 12 of Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 say?
As per the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 [PDF] Rule 10 talks about the furnishing and processing of the grievance related to the content published by a publisher. It makes it essential that the grievance is disposed of in 15 days. In case the publisher fails to address the resentment of the complainant is not satisfied with the action taken by the publisher, the self-regulating body will come into action. The self-regulating body has to take the decision in 15 days, and if the complainant is still not satisfied, he can further appeal to the oversight mechanism set up by the MI&B.
Rule 11 talks about the rules laid down for the appointment of the grievance officer. The grievance officer must be based in India. His name and contact information must be available on the website. He will act as the nodal point of interaction between the complainant, self-regulating body and the Ministry.
Rule 12 talks about the formation of the self-regulating body. It clearly states that the publishers will form a self-regulating body. The retired judge of the Supreme Court, a High Court, or an independent eminent person from the field of media, broadcasting, entertainment, child rights, human rights or such other relevant field will head it.
The oversight mechanism
As per Rule 13, there will be an oversight mechanism under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The oversight mechanism will only come into action if the complainant is not satisfied with the decision of the self-regulating body. Until that point, the Ministry will not interfere in the grievance redressal mechanism.
The Rule 12 make it clear that the publishers will form a self-regulating body, and they will select the retired judge to head it. Therefore, the claim made by The Wire that MI&B will have the power to choose the members and head of the self-regulatory committee is false.