New Delhi: Websites cannot be blocked unless it is a matter affecting the security and sovereignty of the nation, the government told the Delhi High Court on Wednesday.
Department of Electronics and Information Technology and Department of Telecommunication said such action can only be taken under the specific provisions of the Information and Technology Act.
The submission was made by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain before a bench of justices Badar Durrez Ahmed and Sanjeev Sachdeva which was hearing the government's plea challenging directions of a single judge bench to ensure that hundreds of sites, allegedly infringing Star India's copyright in cricket match content, are blocked completely.
The court issued notice to Star India and sought its response by the next date of hearing April 6.
The government, also represented by advocate Sanjeev Narula, said the so-called infringing sites may contain other content also and thus a complete and blanket ban would not be justified.
The government made the submissions while challenging the high court's single judge's orders of December 2 and December 23 last year.
"It is a commercial dispute. The court already directed the internet service providers (ISPs) to block the sites. Then why seek directions to the government to ensure compliance of the same? Why duality of orders," the ASG said.
He said government has asked ISPs to block infringing sites, but it cannot keep monitoring if this was being complied with.
He also said that URLs (uniform resource locators) of the infringing content should be provided so that they could be blocked, instead of an entire website.
However, senior advocates Kapil Sibal, Salman Khurshid and Pratibha Singh, appearing for Star India, were not in agreement, as they said that URLs can be easily changed and thus, entire site needed to be blocked.
The ASG countered their view by saying "if URLs can be circumvented, so can websites."
He also said that the order under challenge was passed in relation to the India-Australia-England tri-series which is over despite which Star wanted the allegedly infringing sites blocked.