December29 2013: One of India's top constitutional lawyers -- Harish Salve -- is to argue a case before its highest court, challenging the Information Technology Rules (under the IT Act) that come into force next week.
He is the lawyer retained by MouthShut.com, India’s first and largest online community for consumer feedback on products and services, in a writ petition filed before the Supreme Court. The plea seeks to declare the IT Rules as violation of Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India which guarantee freedom of expression. Salve.
MouthShut.com approached the Supreme Court, with a writ petition under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, to rescind India’s Information Technology Rules 2011claiming that it jeopardizes the freedom of expression gauranteed Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
“We are pleading with the highest court in the land to protect the rights of Indian citizens and consumers that are granted by the Constitution of India,” said Faisal Farooqui, Founder & CEO, MouthShut.com. Mouthshut.com has stuck to its own policy of taking down content only under legal coercion. But the IT rules stating that ‘any affected person’ can simply send an email to request the removal of any content within 36 hours or they can lose their ‘safe harbour’ protection as an ‘intermediary, pay damages, legal fee and court time’. Web-based organisations need to have a difference between free expression and making feasible services.
Farooqui added, “We have been threatened with hundreds of legal notices, cybercrime complaints and defamation cases. At other times, officers from various police stations call our office, demanding deletion of various reviews or face dire consequences under the IT rules....Despite good intentions, IT Rules fall short of doing that. This law has the potential to weaken or, worse, entirely corrode the robust protection that the constitution of India offers to the freedom of speech.”
MouthShut.com, India’s first and largest online community for consumer feedback on products and services was established in 2000. It provides consumers the ability to write reviews on any product or service offered in India. Several reviews have been written over the last decade and they are made available free of cost to everyone. This space is a highly trusted destination for consumers, who wish to refer for better information and reviews before making purchasing decisions. The feedback also allows businesses to learn from consumer experience and improve the quality of their offerings.
Founded in 2000, MouthShut.com has carried hundreds of thousands of reviews via online feedback, SMS or video, and these are made available free of cost to everyone. Besides offering consumers a free platform to express their opinions or benefit from the opinions of others, MouthShut.com also has several programs for businesses and brands that wish to benefit from the large repository of reviews to improve their products, service and brand reputation.