Section 66A Current Affairs - 2019
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An expert committee headed by former Lok Sabha secretary general TK Viswanathan to deal with cybercrimes especially online hate speech has submitted its report to Union Home Ministry.
The committee was formed after Supreme Court struck down Section 66 A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 in Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India. Section 66 A of IT Act was added to criminalize sending of offensive messages through a computer or other communication devices.
The committee has recommended appointing cybercrime coordinators in all states and establishing cybercrime cells in each district. They will deal with those fomenting trouble or spreading hate against anybody on rounds of religion, race, caste or community, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, language, place of birth or residence, disability or tribe through any means of communication.
It has suggested replacing some clauses of the IT Act, 2000 and amending some sections of IPC like 153 (want only giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505A (false and mischievous reports intended to upset public tranquillity) to deal with online hate crimes.
It has recommended punishment under amended clause dealing with prohibiting incitement to hatred of two years imprisonment or fine of Rs 5,000 or both. It has suggested that offences under amended Section 505A be punishable with imprisonment of up to one year or fine or Rs 5,000 or both.
The committee suggested that state cybercrime coordinator should be an officer not below the rank of Inspector General of Police (IGP). The district cybercrime cell should be headed by an officer not below the rank of sub-inspector of police.
The Union Home Ministry had constituted committee under chairmanship of former Law Secretary TK Viswanathan to assist government in establishing effective legal framework to deal with cybercrimes related to hate speech on internet. It was having members from Law Ministry, CBI and Ministry of Home Affairs.
It was tasked to study and examine existing domestic cyber laws and international cyber legislations and propose measures, amendments to present laws. It was also mandated to recommend amendments to Information Technology Act, 2000 and corresponding provisions in IPC, CrPC and Evidence Act to facilitate establishment of strong legal framework to fight cybercrimes. It was also mandated to draw a roadmap taking into account the need of legal competence and expertise on cyber laws from investigation, prosecution and judiciary angles.
Shreya Singhal is a 21-year-old girl from Delhi who came into news as:
- she filed public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court calling Section 66(A) of the Information Technology (IT) Act unconstitutional.
She filed the petition after the two girls were arrested in Palghar, Maharashtra for posting on Facebook remarks about Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s funeral bringing Mumbai to a halt. The girls were arrested under the IT Act.