MouthShut.com (India) Pvt. Ltd. v. UoI & [W.P.(C).No. 217 of 2013]

This writ petition was filed by MouthShut.com under Article 32 of the Constitution for quashing the IT(Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 (hereinafter referred to as 'the Rules'), as they are violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

The Rules impose a significant burden on the petitioners, forcing them to screen content and exercise on-line censorship. While a private party may allege that certain content is defamatory or infringes copyright, such determinations are usually made by judges and involve factual inquiry and careful balancing of competing interests and factors, which the petitioners are not equipped to make. The petitioners receive notices and phone calls from cyber cells and police stations asking them to delete content and provide information of users, which makes the running of their business difficult.

In the light of the above facts, the following issues have been raised before the SC:

  • Are the Rules liable to be set aside as they contain arbitrary provisions which place unreasonable restrictions on the exercise of free speech and expression, as well as the freedom to practise any profession, or to carry out any occupation, trade or business as guaranteed by Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India?

  • Are the Rules liable to be struck down because of their failure to conform to the Statute under which hey are made and exceeding the limits of authority conferred by the enabling Act (IT Act)?

On determination of the above-mentioned issues, the petitioner prays that:

  • A direction be issued that no coercive action may be initiated against the petitioners in relation to the Rules, during the pendency of W.P.(C).No. 217 of 2013; and

  • Such other order for direction be passed as this Hon'ble Court deems fit in the circumstances of the case in the interest of justice