The Supreme Court on Monday located it “distressing”, “shocking” and “terrible” that people today are nonetheless booked and attempted under Portion 66A of the Information and facts Technology Act even 6 many years after the apex court struck down the provision as unconstitutional and a violation of totally free speech.
Area 66A had approved three years’ imprisonment if a social media information triggered “annoyance” or was located “grossly offensive”.
The Supreme Court, in the Shreya Singhal judgment authored by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in March 2015, had concluded the provision was obscure and worded arbitrarily.
On Monday, senior advocate Sanjay Parikh and advocate Aparna Bhat for People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), reported the selection of situations below Section 66A has elevated put up the judgment.
“What is likely on is terrible, distressing! We will concern see,” Justice Nariman, heading a three-choose Bench also comprising Justices K.M. Joseph and B.R. Gavai, exclaimed.
Legal professional Typical K.K. Venugopal pointed out that legislation publications released article the verdict element the non-existent Portion 66A “in complete”.
“The law enforcement officer, although registering a situation, appears to be at only the segment in the most important textual content… The truth that the Part has been struck down is given only as a footnote…” Venugopal submitted.
“And not remaining Venugopal, he (law enforcement officer) does not read the footnote…” Justice Nariman stated mild-heartedly.
But Justice Nariman agreed with Parikh that the “condition of affairs is surprising”.
Parikh said the court docket has to intervene and do the job out a mechanism to disseminate the Shreya Singhal judgment to each individual police station and trial court docket in the place.
“Certainly, we will operate out a thing,” Justice Nariman assured. The govt was presented two months to file its reply, and PUCL was supplied a week to file its rejoinder. The circumstance would be stated for listening to following this.
“Segment 66A of the IT Act has continued to be in use not only within police stations but also in situations in advance of demo courts throughout India. This information and facts was out there on a website – Zombie Tracker website — designed by a crew of impartial researchers… The results of the internet site reveal that as on March 10, 2021, as a lot of as a total of 745 instances are nevertheless pending and active right before the Districts Courts in 11 States, wherein accused individuals are being prosecuted for offences underneath Section 66A of the IT Act,” the PUCL submitted.
The NGO has urged the apex courtroom to direct the government, by way of the Countrywide Criminal offense Information Bureau or any other agency, to collect all the knowledge/information with regards to FIRs/investigations beneath Portion 66A and pending circumstances in district and high courts.
“Direct the Registry of the Supreme Court to converse to all the District Courts all through the place (as a result of respective Superior Courts) to acquire cognizance of the judgment in Shreya Singhal by which Part 66A of the IT Act has been struck down in its entirety… so that no human being must suffer or facial area any adverse effects which violate his essential rights underneath Write-up 21 of the Structure,” PUCL urged the Supreme Court docket.