Sunday, February 17, 2019

Ensure Section 66A of IT Act is not invoked, Supreme Court directs all states and courts

The Supreme Court on 15 February  directed all state governments, police departments, and courts across India to ensure that Section 66A of the IT Act which was scrapped by it in 2015 is not invoked against anyone.

A bench of the Supreme Court on Friday directed all state governments to remind their respective police departments of its March 24, 205 order which led to the scrapping of Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act. This act enabled police to arrest anyone accused of 'spreading offensive content' on social media.
Comprising of Justices RF Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul, the apex court bench also directed all high courts to send a copy of the verdict to all trial courts in the country in order to ensure that no one is prosecuted or arrested under this provision. The bench was hearing a plea in this regard filed by NGO PUCL who claimed that people are still being prosecuted under this provision even three years after it was struck down by the Supreme Court.

In their plea, PUCL had quoted a recent working paper by the Internet Freedom Foundation demonstrating how pending prosecutions under Section 66A of the IT Act have not been terminated. While challenging the constitutional validity of the provision, PUCL reiterated that it is still being invoked by police departments across India in First Information Reports (FIRs).

The apex court sought a response from the Centre in addition to warning concerned officials with imprisonment for violating its orders. In 2015, the Supreme Court had scrapped Section 66A by citing liberty of thought and expression as "cardinal". It had also stated that the public's right to know is directly affected by Section 66A of the IT Act. The act, when in force, carried a maximum punishment of up to three years in jail.

No comments:

Post a Comment