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Section 66 A of IT Act unconstitutional, Supreme Court rules

Section 66 A of IT Act unconstitutional

The Section gives the police powers to arrest those who post objectionable content online and provides for a three-year jail term.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Section 66 A of the Information and Technology Act as unconstitutional.

The public’s right to know is directly affected by Section 66 A of the IT Act, the Court said.

It also termed the provision as vague and says “what may be offensive to a person, may not be offensive to others.”

The Section gives the police powers to arrest those who post objectionable content online and provides for a three-year jail term.

A bench of justices J. Chelameswar and R.F. Nariman had on 26 February reserved its judgement on one of the most controversial issues regarding the freedom of expression that the court has had to deal with in recent times. The verdict was reserved after the government concluded its arguments contending that section 66A of the Information Technology Act cannot be declared unconstitutional merely because of the possibility of its “abuse”.

The government said it did not want to curtail the freedom of speech and expression but contended that the cyber space could not be allowed to remain unregulated. During hearing however, the court had found several issues with the wording of the law. In particular, it said that terms like ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘of menacing character’, used to classify content as illegal, were vague expressions and these words were likely to be misunderstood and abused.

The first PIL on the issue was filed in 2012 by a law student Shreya Singhal, who sought amendment in Section 66A of the Act, after two girls — Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan — were arrested in Palghar in Thane district as one of them posted a comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s death and the other ‘liked’ it. The apex court had on 16 May 2013, come out with an advisory that a person, accused of posting objectionable comments on social networking sites, cannot be arrested without police getting permission from senior officers like the IG or the DCP

Share this on WhatsApp The Section gives the police powers to arrest those who post objectionable content online and provides for a three-year jail term. The Supreme Court on Tuesday declared Section 66 A of the Information and Technology Act as unconstitutional. The public’s right to know is directly affected by Section 66 A of …

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