IMPHAL: Following outrage over the notice issued to Manipur journalist by the District Magistrate under the provisions of the new digital media rules, the Centre intervenes and alerted the state government "that powers to administer notices have not been delegated to state governments, police commissioners or District Magistrates under the new media laws."
Paojel Chaoba, a journalist based in Manipur was issued a notice by the District Magistrate of Imphal West, Naorem Praveen Singh under the newly framed Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 over an online discussion that was conducted and uploaded on the Facebook page of his organisation, The Frontier Manipur (TFM).
This was followed by another notice which stated that the previous notice against him has been withdrawn.
The first notice was issued citing the code of ethics for a programme called Khanasi Neinasi, an online show hosted by The Frontier Manipur (TFM). The topic of the programme that led to the issuance of the notice was to discuss the New Digital Media Rules, titled 'Media Under Siege: Are Journalists Walking A Tight Rope'.
Soon after the broadcast of the programme, the DM had served the notice to the Publisher/Intermediary of the talk show Khanasi Neinasi, directing the publisher to furnish to the DM all the relevant documents for ensuring compliance to the provisions of the Information Technology Rules, 2021. The notice also said, "failing which, steps as deemed fit would be initiated without further notice."
It needs to be mentioned here that it was the first such notice from the government under the new IT rules.
Following the issuance of the notice, a nationwide outrage surfaced against the newly framed laws by the Centre. Digital media organisations criticized the government for framing guidelines that appear to go against the fundamental principle of news and its role in democracy.
Meanwhile, taking cognizance of the matter, the Union Information and Broadcasting Secretary Amit Khare on Tuesday wrote to the Manipur government saying that powers to administer notices have not been delegated to state governments, police commissioners or District Magistrates under the new media laws.
In a letter issued to the Manipur's Chief Secretary it has been stated, "The rules relating to news publishers and publishers of Online Curated Content (OTT) Platforms, including the Code of Ethics, the 3-Tier Grievances Redressal Mechanism, are to be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. These powers have not been delegated to the state governments or District Magistrate, or Police Commissioner."
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