Daily News Analysis » March 2024 » Supreme Court’s Interim Stay on the Fact Check Unit : 22 Mar 2024

Supreme Court’s Interim Stay on the Fact Check Unit : 22 Mar 2024

What is a Fact Check Unit?

  • The Amendment to IT Rules, 2021: In April 2023, amendments were made to include a legal framework for online gaming and a mechanism for the government to fact-check online content related to “government business”.
  • The Union Electronics and IT Ministry then established a Fact Check Unit (FCU) as a statutory body under the Press Information Bureau.
  • It is equipped with powers to identify false information related to the central government on social media sites.

Concerns Raised: 

  • Critics argue that the amendment could potentially make the government the “sole arbiter of truth” regarding its affairs, sparking debates on freedom of speech and expression.

Challenge and Appeal to the FCU:

  • The FCU’s establishment and the amendment to the IT Rules, 2021, have been contested in the Bombay High Court. 
  • Following a split verdict and subsequent appeal, the Supreme Court has temporarily halted the FCU’s operation until a final verdict is reached by the Bombay High Court.

Supreme Court’s Intervention

  • Interim Stay Granted: The Chief Justice of India (CJI) led a bench that temporarily stayed the amended Rules, highlighting the significance of maintaining the status quo until the High Court’s final decision.
  • Precedent for Staying Laws: Typically, laws enacted by Parliament are presumed constitutional until proven otherwise. However, the Supreme Court has occasionally stayed laws or rules prior to ruling on their constitutionality, especially when there’s a clear indication of potential unconstitutionality.

Why in News:

  • The Supreme Court recently stayed the recent amendment to IT Rules, 2021 which had led to the establishment of FCUs.