March 26th 2012: P.Rajeeve, a Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, and a member of the Communist Part of India (Marxist), has moved a motion in the Rajya Sabha for the annulment of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, and that the Rajya Sabha recommend that this motion also be recommended to the Lok Sabha. The Rajya Sabha’s bulltetin reads:
‘The following Motion given notice of by Shri P.Rajeeve, M.P. has been admitted in the following form:
“That this House resolves that the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 issued under clause (zg) of sub-section (2) of Section 87 read with sub-section (2) of Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 published in the Gazette of India dated the 13th April, 2011 vide Notification No. G.S.R 314(E) and laid on the Table of the House on the 12th August, 2011, be annuled; and
That this House recommends to Lok Sabha that Lok Sabha do concur on this Motion.”
This is the second instance of a member of Parliament speaking out against the IT Rules: On the 6th of September 2011, Jayant Chaudhary had pointed out issues with the IT Rules and had called for a review, but we’re not quite sure of what happened after that.
It remains to be seen whether the Kerala MP’s motion leads to the Rajya Sabha annulling the IT Rules. It’s also worth noting that, earlier this month, a public interest litigation was been filed in the Kerala High Court, challenging their constitutional validity. Read more on that here.
(IT) Rules or no rules, companies can still be taken to court for censorship, as we’ve seen in the case of Facebook and Google. More on that here and here.
What Happens Next (Update)
Chakshu Roy of PRS Legislative Research, in response to our queries on what happens next:
– On whether there is a time limit within which the Rajya Sabha has to debate the IT Rules: The motion has been admitted by Rajya Sabha. Now time would have to be allocated for it to be discussed by MPs in Rajya Sabha. There is no specified time limit as to when the motion would be taken up in Rajya Sabha. Usually the business that is transacted in the house is determined by the Business Advisory Committee of Rajya Sabha along with the presiding officer of Rajya Sabha. For a motion to be passed in the house, it has to be voted upon. Voting could be either by voice vote or by recorded voting.
– On the status of the Rules while the motion has been admitted: As to the status of the IT Rules, they continue to be in force while they await scrutiny by Parliament.
– If the Rajya Sabha passes the annulment motion, can the Lok Sabha ignore its recommendation? Someone would have to introduce a separate motion (in the Lok Sabha) and then Lok Sabha would decide on that. Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha are separate houses and a motion passed in one house its not binding on the other house.