Yesterday, The Supreme Court of India issued notice to the Central Government for the continued use of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“the IT Act”), despite the provision being struck down from the statute books as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its landmark judgment – Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015) [WP (Criminal) No. 167 of 2012). The court has directed the Centre to file a counter affidavit within 4 weeks and another week has been granted for a rejoinder. The petition has been filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).
The erstwhile Section 66A of the IT Act, provided for punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services. The Supreme Court struck it down in its entirety calling it violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved by Article 19(2) of the constitution of India.
In its petition, PUCL has submitted that, more than 22 people have been prosecuted under the provision, after it was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015. Taking note of the seriousness of the submissions, the bench comprising of Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran asserted that the concerned officials will be arrested if its order scrapping the provision has been violated.
A copy of the petition can be found on Bar and Bench’s website, here – https://barandbench.com/as-arrests-under-defunct-section-66a-continue-supreme-court-ensures-strict-action/.
A copy of the order of the Supreme Court can be read here: