Musician T.M. Krishna moves Madras HC challenging constitutionality of latest IT Rules

Court orders notice to Centre on writ petition filed by Carnatic musician seeking that the new rules be declared as ‘unconstitutional and ultra vires to the Information Technology Act of 2000’.

The Madras High Court on Thursday ordered notice to the Centre on a writ petition filed by acclaimed Carnatic musician T.M. Krishna to declare the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules of 2021 as unconstitutional and ultra vires to the Information Technology Act of 2000.

Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy directed petitioner’s counsel Suhrith Parthasarathy to serve the papers on Additional Solicitor General R. Sankaranarayanan so that the Centre could file its counter affidavit within three weeks. The case would be heard next after four weeks, the judges said.

In his affidavit, Mr. Krishna stated that as an artist and cultural and political commentator, he cherished the right to free expression and privacy guaranteed under the Constitution. “For me, privacy, like music itself, is an experience. When I think of privacy, I think of life, intimacy, experience, discovery, security, happiness, the lack of fear and the freedom to create. I think of liberty, dignity and choice as facets inherent in me and not just as an artist but as a human being,” he said.

Hailing the Supreme Court’s verdict in K.S. Puttaswamy’s case (2017) wherein it was recognised that right to privacy was implicit in the guarantee of right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution, he said the judgement acknowledged the fact that privacy for an artist, “and there is an artist in every human being,” was solitude, not in the sense where one shut themselves from all contact but in the sense of a relationship between the artist and creative soul.

Our Constitution contained a commitment to the liberty of imagination. Censorship sans reason offended this commitment, the petitioner said and claimed that the recently notified IT Rules of 2021 offended his right as an artist and cultural commentator by imposing a chilling effect on free speech and by impinging on his right to privacy. He said part II of the Rules violated his rights as a user of social media services and part III were in breach of his rights as a creator of online content.

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