Carnatic singer T M Krishna moves HC against IT rules

Carnatic singer T M Krishna moves Madras High Court against new IT rules

In his petition, Krishna asked the court to declare the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules 2021 as unconstitutional

Carnatic music vocalist T M Krishna. Credit: PTI Photo

Eminent Carnatic singer and Magsaysay Award-winner T M Krishna has moved the Madras High Court challenging the Union Government’s new digital media rules, contending that they “offend my rights as an artist and cultural commentator.”

The first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy heard the plea on Thursday and gave the Union Government three weeks to respond to the plea while adjourning the matter for four weeks.

This is not the first time that Krishna has opposed Centre's decisions. He had actively participated in the protests against the controversial Citizenship (Amendment) Act, and speaks on several issues that concern the public.

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In his petition, Krishna asked the court to declare the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code), Rules 2021 as unconstitutional. International organisations like Twitter and WhatsApp have taken objection to the new rules with many alleging that the new rules take away the privacy of those who use the apps.

“I state that as an artist, cultural and political commentator, I cherish and attach particular value to my rights to free expression and privacy under the Constitution of India. For me, privacy, like the music itself, is an experience. When I think of privacy, I think of life, intimacy, experience, discovery, security, happiness, the lack of fear and the freedom to create,” Krishna said in his petition.

He said the new rules offend his right as an artist and cultural commentator by imposing a “chilling effect on free speech, and by impinging on right to privacy.”

Krishna added in his petition that the new rules which are “vague and indeterminate”, will thwart artists from raising difficult questions against existing aesthetic, gender, and caste hierarchies in Karnatic music, and will thwart dissenters who question prevailing cultural mores.

“Beyond violating the rights to privacy and freedom of expression of producers of online content, the Impugned Rules, I am advised to submit, are also ultra vires the IT Act, 2000. The legislation simply does not contemplate regulation of digital news media and publishers of online curated content,” he said in his petition.