Sec 66A of IT act scrapped: 5 details observed by Supreme Court

The Supreme Courtroom on Tuesday struck down the controversial Area 66A of the Information and facts Know-how Act, 2000 that produced submitting “offensive” responses on-line a crime punishable by jail, just after a long marketing campaign by defenders of absolutely free speech.

The apex courtroom has struck down the provision in the cyber legislation which presents police electrical power to arrest a human being for posting “offensive” content online and delivers for a 3-year jail term. It pronounced its verdict on a batch of petitions tough constitutional validity of particular sections of the cyber regulation.

Listed here are 5 points noticed by the SC in its verdict:

1. Describing liberty of assumed and expression as “cardinal”, a bench of justice J Chelameswar and justice RF Nariman stated, “The public’s proper to know is straight affected by portion 66A of the Information and facts Technological know-how Act.”

Nariman, who pronounced the verdict in a packed court space, explained that the provision “clearly influences” the fundamental correct to freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution.

2. Elaborating the grounds for keeping the provision “unconstitutional”, the courtroom explained terms like “troublesome”, “inconvenient” and “grossly offensive”, used in the provision, are vague as it is tricky for the legislation enforcement agency and the offender to know the components of the offence.

The bench also referred to two judgements of British isles courts which reached various conclusions on whether the product in query was offensive or grossly offensive.

3. “When judicially educated minds can get to on unique conclusions” even though likely via the same articles, then how is it possible for regulation enforcement company and other people to come to a decision as to what is offensive and what is grossly offensive, the bench explained, introducing, “What may possibly be offensive to a particular person may not be offensive to the other.”

4. The bench rejected the assurance supplied by the NDA govt during the hearing that specified techniques may perhaps be laid down to make certain that the legislation in concern is not abused. The governing administration had also mentioned that it will not misuse the provision.

5. “Governments appear and go but section 66A will continue to be endlessly,” the bench claimed, adding the present authorities are unable to give an endeavor about its successor that they will not abuse the identical.

The bench, on the other hand, did not strike down two other provisions – sections 69A and 79 of the IT act – and reported that they can continue being enforced with particular constraints.

Area 69A provides electrical power to problem instructions to block general public entry of any details by means of any pc resource and 79 provides for exemption from liability of middleman in specific cases.


What is part 66A

Segment 66A of the IT act reads: “Any person who sends by any signifies of a pc source any facts that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character or any facts which he appreciates to be phony, but for the function of leading to annoyance, inconvenience, risk, obstruction, insult shall be punishable with imprisonment for a expression which could prolong to a few several years and with great.”

Posts in the past

The first PIL on the difficulty was filed in 2012 by legislation pupil Shreya Singhal, who sought amendment in portion 66A of the act following two women — Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan — had been arrested in Palghar in Thane district after a single of them posted a comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s demise and the other ‘liked’ it.

In the wake of numerous problems of harassment and arrests, the apex court docket experienced on May 16, 2013 issued an advisory that a individual, accused of putting up objectionable comments on social networking sites, are unable to be arrested without police obtaining authorization from senior officers like IG or DCP.

Soon after the apex court docket reserved its judgement in the subject on February 26 this 12 months, a further controversial scenario hogged the limelight for alleged misuse of section 66A in which a boy was arrested on March 18 for allegedly publishing on Facebook objectionable feedback against senior Samajwadi Bash leader Azam Khan.

A petition was submitted right before the SC in this regard alleging that its advisory was violated soon after which the apex court docket requested UP law enforcement to clarify the instances leading to the arrest of the boy.

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