India

Supreme Court ‘shocked’ at use of Section 66A under IT Act, even after it was scrapped in 2007

The Supreme Court expressed displeasure on Monday (July 5) regarding the use of Section 66A of the IT Act which was scrapped several years ago but there are still over a thousand cases filed under it. 

Section 66A was scrapped by the top court on March 24, 2015. In a landmark judgement, the court described the now-defunct law as vague, unconstitutional and a violation of speech. 

It came into notice when People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) filed a plea that pointed out that even after seven years of the law being struck down, it is still in use where a total of 745 cases are still pending and active before the district courts in eleven states.

The plea was based on the data collated by the ‘Internet Free Foundation’, an organisation that questions the archaic laws and zombie provisions that are only used to prosecute innocent people. 

The Supreme Court was informed by Attorney General of India, KK Venugopal on Monday, that the statute books still carry Section 66A of the IT Act.”If your lordships see the IT Act book, there is only a small asterisk and a footnote that says deleted by order of Supreme court. No one reads the footnote,” said Venugopal.

“This is shocking,” observed the bench headed by Justice RF Nariman. “Implementation is a problem. You read my dissent in the Sabarimala case,” commented Justice Nariman.

Sec 66A was struck down on March 24, 2015, after it was challenged by Shreya Singhal, a Mumbai law student who filed a petition in 2012 after two young women were arrested for posting comments critical of the city’s shutdown after the death of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray. The court in its 2015 judgment has noted that the provision was “vague and arbitrary”.

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