SC notice to states over abuse of dead Sec 66A

SC notice to states over abuse of dead Sec 66A

The order came after the Centre submitted that after Section 66A was declared unconstitutional, it was for the states to ensure that cases were not filed under the provision.

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2

As the police continue to book people under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act which was declared unconstitutional by it in 2015, the Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to all states, union territories and registrar generals of high courts on a petition filed by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) highlighting the problem.

“The police are state subject. We will issue notice and pass comprehensive orders. This can’t continue,” a Bench led by Justice Nariman said, listing the matter for further hearing after four weeks.

The order came after the Centre submitted that after Section 66A was declared unconstitutional, it was for the states to ensure that cases were not filed under the provision.

On behalf of petitioner PUCL, senior advocate Sanjay Parikh said there were two aspects: the police and the judiciary. “We have given detailed suggestions. The Centre has issued directions to the state DGPs. Instructions also need to go to the judiciary,” Parikh submitted.

Acting on a PIL filed by Shreya Singhal, the Supreme Court had on March 24 declared unconstitutional Section 66A of IT Act, which gave sweeping powers to the police to arrest people for posting “annoying” or “offensive” comments online.

The provision prescribed a maximum three-year imprisonment for posting offensive and annoying messages on computer-like devices. The Supreme Court had on July 5 expressed shock and surprise at police invoking Section 66A of the Information Technology Act which was declared unconstitutional by it more than six years ago.

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