In its petition, WhatsApp stated that identifying the first source of information puts end-to-end encryption "at risk."
The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Centre to respond to Facebook and WhatsApp's petitions challenging the new IT rules for social media intermediaries that require the messaging app to "trace" chats and make provisions to identify the first originator of information.
The new rules are being challenged on the grounds that they violate the right to privacy and are unconstitutional, according to the petitions.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued notice and directed the Centre to file a response to the petition as well as an application to stay the implementation of the Rules through the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology.
The case has been rescheduled for a hearing on October 22.
The Centre's counsel stated that the main advocate was unavailable and requested an adjournment, which was denied by senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi, who represented WhatsApp and Facebook, respectively.
WhatsApp, a Facebook-owned company, claimed in its petition that the requirement in India of intermediaries allowing the identification of the first originator of information upon government or court order puts end-to-end encryption and its benefits "at risk."
WhatsApp has asked the high court to declare Rule 4(2) of the Intermediary Rules unconstitutional, ultra vires to the IT Act, and illegal, and to impose no criminal liability on it for any alleged violation of Rule 4(2), which requires enabling the identification of the first originator of information.