New IT rules not applicable to search engine: Google

Google moves Delhi HC against order to remove content; claims rules on digital media won't apply to it

Google said it was aggrieved by the blanket, 'template directions' issued by a single judge

The court said that it was not going to issue any interim order at this stage. Credit: Reuters File Photo

US-based Google on Wednesday filed a plea in the Delhi High Court contending that new rules for digital media would not apply to it, as it is a search engine.

It asked the court to set aside a single bench judgement of April 20 which directed it to remove content globally, which was flagged as "objectionable" by a female petitioner, for being "offensive". 

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice to the Centre, Delhi government, Internet Service Providers Association of India, Facebook, the pornographic site and the woman on whose plea the single judge's ruling had come.

The court sought a response from the parties on the Google's plea by July 25.

The company sought interim protection in the matter from any coercive action or non-compliance of the directions, as despite the court orders the content was not removed in entirety from the World Wide Web.

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The court, however, said it would not pass any interim order at this stage, though Google submitted it was an intermediary not a social media intermediary.

In its plea, Google contended that the April 20 judgment "mischaracterised" its search engine as a 'social media intermediary' or 'significant social media intermediary', which has been covered under the new rules for digital media.

Google said it was aggrieved by the blanket, "template directions" issued by a single judge. 

It further argued that the judge mixed various sections of the Information Technology Act and separate rules prescribed thereunder and passed template directions combining all such offences and provisions, which it emphasised was bad in law.

"The single judge has misinterpreted and misapplied the New Rules 2021," the company claimed in its appeal.

According to the template framed by the single judge, when such matters related to offending content come before a court and it is satisfied that an immediate redressal was required at the interim stage, it may issue a direction to the website where the objectional material is hosted to remove the same forthwith and maximum within 24 hours of receiving the judicial order.