Supreme Court of India in 2015 scrapped Section 66A of the I.T. Act, giving relief to all Indians who believe in freedom of speech.
NEW DELHI, Sep. 14, 2022 (TBINN)
Impugned section stated that any electronic mail or message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.
Notably, Section 66A came into prominence after a young woman from Palghar in Maharashtra, Shaheen Dhada, got arrested in November 2012 after she had posted an update on her Facebook Page criticising the bandh imposed by Shiv Sena after the death of its party supremo Late Bal Thackeray. Rinu Srinivasan, Shaheen’s friend, too was arrested under Section 66A of the I.T. Act after she merely ‘liked’ the Facebook Post.
At that time public outrage compelled the then Maharashtra’s government and the state police to quash the case against them.
It is pertinent to mention here that Information Technology Act was enacted in 2000 when the Internet was still relatively new in India. As the use of social media and Web sites grew, the misuse and abuse of platforms too grew and, therefore, Section 66A was inserted into the I.T. Act.
At last, a Law student, Shreya Singhal, challenged Section 66A arguing that it curbed Freedom of Speech and Expression and violated Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. In 2015, the then Supreme Court judges Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Rohinton Fali Nariman stated that the Section violated Articles 19, the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression and Article 21, Right to Life and scrapped it.
Then, seven years later, after the Supreme Court judgment, allegedly, many cases are still being filed under this dead section and arrests are being which lead People’s Union for Civil Liberties approach the apex court.
The P.I.L. of P.U.C.L. revealed 40 cases under Section 66A of the I.T. Act are pending before courts in Jharkhand. In Madhya Pradesh, the state machinery has taken cognisance of 145 cases and out of these, 113 are pending in courts.
Sanjay Parikh, Senior Advocate, who appeared for P.U.C.L., scored a major victory when the apex court ruled that all cases under Section 66A of the I.T. Act have to be withdrawn in three weeks.