Section 66 A of IT Act unconstitutional and untenable: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court (SC) on 24 March 2015 struck down the Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act 2000 calling it unconstitutional and untenable.
SC in its ruling held that Section 66A interferes with freedom of speech and expression envisaged under Article 19 of Constitution of India and also hit the root of two cardinal pillars of democracy liberty and freedom of expression.
This verdict was given by SC bench comprising of Justices J. Chelameswar and R.F. Nariman on bunch of petitions filed in the wake of misuse of the penal provision by government authorities.
Supreme Court held that
- Section 66 A is unconstitutional because it failed two major tests, the clear and present danger test and the tendency to create public disorder test.
- Language used in this section is vague and nebulous does not properly define words like offensive or even persistent.
SC also rejected the assurance given by NDA government during the hearing defending certain procedures of the law so it cannot be question and abused.
However in this ruling SC did not strike down two other provisions in sections 69A and 79 of the IT Act and mentioned that they can remain enforced with certain restrictions.
- The first petition in this regard was filed in 2012 by a law student Shreya Singhal who had challenged the Section after two young women were arrested for posting comments Facebook in Thane district.
- In the comments they had criticized shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackray’s death.
About Section 66A of IT Act 2000
- It gives power to government authorities to issue directions to block public access of any information through any computer resource.
- It also allows authorities to arrest a person for posting allegedly offensive content on websites and imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.