The Centre told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, 7 June, that it will not notify till 10 July the formation of the government-constituted 'fact-check unit' under the new Information Technology Rules.
This fact-checking unit, once constituted, will have the power to flag any content about any government business as 'fake', 'false' or 'misleading' and let intermediaries take action against it.
The government, which had previously stayed the rules till 5 July, made the statement in response to a plea by stand up comic Kunal Kamra who recently filed a petition challenging the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules, 2023 that were notified by the government.
Meanwhile, the High Court also issued notice on petitions by the Editors Guild of India challenging the rules.
The Editors Guild of India has said that said it is "deeply concerned" with the suggestions of the latest amendment to the IT Rules.
"At the outset, determination of fake news cannot be in the sole hands of the government and will result in the censorship of the press," it read.
The statement voiced its concern about the proposal making it "easier to muzzle the free press," saying that it would give PIB sweeping powers to "force online intermediaries" to remove content that the government "may find problematic."
Calling on the Ministry of Information and Electronics Technology to remove this amendment, it stated that the move would "stifle legitimate criticism of the government" and adversely impact the press which holds the government accountable.