SC astound that Section 66A of IT Act is still used.



The Supreme Court recently found it “distressing”, “shocking” and “terrible” that individuals were still booked and tried under Section 66A of the information Technology (IT) Act.

Important Points:

  • The provision was struck down six years ago by the SC citing it as unconstitutional and a violation of free speech.
  • The court, in the Shreya Singhal judgment authored by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman in March 2015, had concluded that the supply was vague and worded arbitrarily.
  • Court Observation:
  • The court had to intervene and estimate a mechanism to disseminate the Shreya Singhal judgment to each police headquarters and therefore the trial court in the country.

What are the Government’s Stand:

  • The law books published post the decision featured the non-existent Section 66A “in full”.  
  • The police officer, while registering a case, looks at only the Section within the main text.
  • The fact that the Section has been struck down is given only as a footnote.
How A Bill Becomes A Zombie? The Journey of Section 66A of the Information  Technology Act, 2000


Shreya Singhal case:

  • In 2015, the Supreme Court during a landmark judgment on Section 66A of the IT Act had struck down the supply for being violative of the proper to freedom of speech and expression.
  • SC had said what it's said about Section 66A would directly apply to the supply “as causing annoyance in an indecent manner suffers from an equivalent sort of vagueness and overbreadth”
  • A prospective offender of Section 66A and therefore the authorities who are to enforce Section 66A have absolutely no manageable standard by which to book an individual for an offence under Section 66A.
  • Concluding that Section 66A takes within its sweep protected speech and speech that's innocent in nature, the court had also said that's liable “therefore to be utilized in such a way on have a chilling effect on free speech.”
  • The impugned sections proscribed a variety of acts if done via electronic means but failed to define what terms like “intimidation”, “menacing”, “chasing”, “persistent” used actually meant.

Section 66A of the IT Act:

  • Sending of any communication, via computer or a communication device, which might be said to be “grossly offensive,  
  • Has menacing character or false information intended at “causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or will” or  
  • Any electronic mail or email messages intended at “causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead” the recipient.

Penalty under Section 66A of IT Act:

Section 66A had prescribed three years’ imprisonment if a social media message caused “annoyance” or was found “grossly offensive”.

Article 19:

  • Right to Freedom (Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech, etc)

All citizens shall have the right

  • to freedom of speech and expression;
  • to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  • to form associations or unions;
  • to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  • to reside and settle in any a part of the territory of India;  

omitted to practise any profession, or to hold on any occupation, trade or business

Restrictions on Right to Freedom (Reasonable Restrictions):

The law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the proper conferred by the said sub-clause within the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in reference to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.



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