Plea challenging State govt’s FCU adjourned
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court adjourned the hearing of a plea filed by AIADMK functionary R Nirmal Kumar against the Fact Checking Unit (FCU) constituted by the Tamil Nadu government. R Nirmal Kumar, joint secretary of the information technology wing of AIADMK moved the HC challenging the FCU constituted by the government to deal with misinformation and disinformation pertaining to the State government emanating from all media platforms. The case was listed before the first division bench of the Madras High Court (MHC) comprising Chief Justice SV Gangapurwala and Justice D Bharatha Chakravarthy. Senior counsel Vijay Narayan appeared for AIADMK and contended that the State does not have the power to constitute FCU. According to the Information Technology (Intermediary and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 the Union government only can constitute FCU, said the counsel. After the submission, the Chief Justice intervened and wondered if fake news was being spread on social media, the State cannot take any action, the FCU is to filter the fake news to accommodate the police to take action. Vijay Narayan contended that this power in the hands of the State can lead to terrorising the press. Further, the counsel also submitted that without any advertisement the State has appointed 8 members to constitute the FCU. Opposing this, senior counsel PS Raman appeared for the State and said that only qualified persons have been appointed in the FCU and the director of the FCU has been appointed on the basis that he already runs an FCU. After the submission, the bench adjourned the matter to December 6 for further hearing.