By Rohit and Jhalak Some Rajya Sabha seats will be contested over the next year.  The Presidential elections are also scheduled to be held in 2012.  The recent assembly elections has implications for both these elections.  The Presidential elections will depend on the strenght in the assemblies, in Lok Sabha and in Rajya Sabha (which could change over the next year).  Implications for Rajya Sabha Elections The composition of Rajya Sabha may undergo some changes.  A total of 12 Rajya Sabha seats are up for election in 2011.  This includes 6 seats from West Bengal, 3 from Gujarat and 1 each from Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Goa.  Another 65 seats, across 18 states, go for elections in early 2012.  The largest chunk of these seats comes from UP(10), followed by Andhra Pradesh(6), Bihar(6) and Maharashtra(6). Since Rajya Sabha members are elected by the elected members of the Legislative Assembly of the State, a change in the composition of the assembly can affect the election outcome.  We used the current assembly compositions to work out scenarios for Rajya Sabha in 2011 and 2012.  There could be alliances between parties for the Rajya Sabha elections, so we have estimated a range for each grouping (Scenario I and II) for 2012.  See Notes [1] and [2]. 

Parties/ Coalitions 2010 Scenario 2011 Scenario 2012
      I II
UPA 89 94 95 97
NDA 65 65 67 66
Left 22 19 14 14
BSP 18 18 19 19
SP 5 5 6 6
AIADMK 4 5 5 5
BJD 6 6 5 5
Other parties 18 18 20 19
Independent 6 6 5 5
Nominated 8 9 9 9
Total 241 245 245 245

Implications for the election of the President The President is elected in accordance with the provisions of Article 54 and 55 of the Constitution.  The electorate consists of the elected members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and all Legislative Assemblies.  Each MP/ MLA's vote has a pre-determined value based on the population they represent.  The election is held in accordance with the system of proportional representation by means of a single transferable vote.  The winning candidate must secure at least 50% of the total value of votes polled. (For details, refer to this Election Commission document).  There is no change in the Lok Sabha composition (unless there are bye-elections). Position in Legislative Assemblies After the recent round of assembly elections, the all-India MLA count adds up to:

UPA 1613
NDA 1106
Left 205
BSP 246
BJD 103
SP 95
Others 597

The above numbers can now be used to estimate the value of votes polled by each coalition. See Note [3]:

Value of votes cast Scenario - 1 Scenario - 2
UPA 439,437 440,853
NDA 307,737 307,029
Left 51,646 51,646
BSP 77,243 77,243
SP 38,531 38,531
AIADMK 36,392 36,392
BJD 28,799 28,799
Others 119,097 118,389
Total 1,098,882 1,098,882
Min. to be elected 549,442 549,442

The UPA has the highest value of votes polled but the figure is not sufficient to get its candidate elected.  Assuming that there are at most three candidates with significant support (UPA, NDA, and Left/Third Front), the winner will be the one who manages to bridge the gap with second preference votes.  On this factor, the UPA backed candidate is likely to hold the edge over others.  Notes: [1] At present, there are four vacant seats in Rajya Sabha (1 Maharashtra, 1 TN, 1 WB and 1 Nominated).  It is assumed that all these seats are filled up in 2011. [2] Three of the 11 nominated members in the current Rajya Sabha have declared their party affiliation as INC.  These have been included in the UPA count in the above analysis.  For the sake of simplicity, it is assumed that members who get nominated in 2011/ 12 are not aligned to any party/ coalition. [3] The above analysis is based on the assumption that the next set of assembly elections happen after the Presidential election.

On June 6, 2022, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology released the draft amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) for public feedback.  The IT Rules were notified on February 25, 2021, under the Information Technology Act, 2000 (IT Act).  The Ministry noted that there is a need to amend the Rules to keep up with the challenges and gaps emerging in an expanding digital ecosystem.  In this blog post, we give a brief background to the IT Rules, 2021 and explain the key proposed changes to the Rules.

Background to the IT Rules, 2021

The IT Act exempts intermediaries from liability for user-generated content on their platform provided they meet certain due diligence requirements.  Intermediaries are entities that store or transmit data on behalf of other persons and include telecom and internet service providers, online marketplaces, search engines, and social media sites.  IT Rules specify the due diligence requirements for the intermediaries.  These include: (i) informing users about rules and regulations, privacy policy, and terms and conditions for usage of its services, including types of content which are prohibited, (ii) expeditiously taking down content upon an order from the government or courts, (iii) providing a grievance redressal mechanism to resolve complaints from users about violation of Rules, and (iv) enabling identification of the first originator of the information on its platform under certain conditions.  It also specifies a framework for content regulation of online publishers of news and current affairs and curated audio-visual content.  For an analysis of the IT Rules 2021 please see here.

Key changes proposed to the IT Rules 2021

Key changes proposed by the draft amendments are as follows:

  • Obligations of intermediaries:  The 2021 Rules require the intermediary to “publish” rules and regulations, privacy policy and user agreement for access or usage of its services.   The Rules specify restrictions on the types of content that users are allowed to create, upload, or share.  The Rules require intermediaries to “inform” users about these restrictions.  Proposed amendments seek to expand the obligation on intermediaries to include: (i) “ensuring compliance” with rules and regulations, privacy policy, and user agreement, and (ii) "causing users to not" create, upload, or share prohibited content.
  • The proposed amendments also add that intermediaries should take all reasonable measures to ensure accessibility of their services to all users, with a reasonable expectation of due diligence, privacy, and transparency.   Further, intermediaries should respect the constitutional rights of all users.  The Ministry observed that such a change was necessary as several intermediaries have acted in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens.
  • Appeal mechanism against decisions of grievance officers:  The 2021 Rules require intermediaries to designate a grievance officer to address complaints regarding violations of the Rules.  The Ministry observed that there have been instances where these officers do not address the grievances satisfactorily or fairly.  A person aggrieved with the decision of the grievance officer needs to approach courts to seek redressal.  Hence, the draft amendments propose an alternative mechanism for such appeals.  A Grievance Appellate Committee will be formed by the central government to hear appeals against the decisions of grievance officers.  The Committee will consist of a chairperson and other members appointed by the central government through a notification.  The Committee is required to dispose of such appeals within 30 days from the date of receipt.  The concerned intermediary must comply with the order passed by the Committee.  Note that the proposed amendments do not restrict users from directly approaching courts.
  • Expeditious removal of prohibited content:  The 2021 Rules require intermediaries to acknowledge complaints regarding violation of Rules within 24 hours, and dispose of complaints within 15 days.  The proposed amendments add that the complaints concerning the removal of prohibited content must be addressed within 72 hours.  The Ministry observed that given the potential for virality of content over internet, a stricter timeline will help in removing prohibited content expeditiously.

Comments on the draft amendments are invited until July 6, 2022.