Ghost of Section 66A

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Source: Indian Express 

Relevance:  Laws that are declared unconstitutional by the judiciary, are still in use. Policy measures are required to ensure the proper implementation of orders.


The Supreme Court’s criticism and the Centre’s note underline the letter of Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act. Now the challenge is to implement it in spirit.


Read moreDisable unconstitutional sections

About Section 66A:
  • It was introduced as an amendment to the Information Technology Act in 2008.
  • It gave the government power to arrest and imprison an individual for allegedly “offensive and menacing” online posts.
Why was it struck down?
  • The SC in the Shreya Singhal Case deduced that Section 66A was arbitrarily, excessively, and disproportionately invades the right of free speech.
  • It was drafted so widely that virtually any opinion on any subject would be covered by it. Thus, upholding its validity would create a chilling effect on free speech in the country.
Reasons behind continued persecutions under Section 66A:
  • The gap between the court’s judgment and the pile of Section 66A cases is, perhaps, explained by a political climate. Free speech, dissent, and legitimate criticism are being seen in bad faith.
  • Further, the existing laws are wielded as weapons to arrest journalists and citizens for a tweet or a slogan, or a Facebook post.
  • Early this month, the Supreme Court bench hearing the plea was moved to seek a response from the Centre on what it called a “shocking state of affairs”
  • The Centre has written to state governments, asking them to pass on the memo to the police force and withdraw all cases under Section 66A.
  • The Centre’s note to the states is a positive step, but regular monitoring is the only way to ensure that the law is implemented in letter and spirit.
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