New Delhi: The Supreme Court has issued ‘show-cause’ notices to all states registering FIR under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. The court had scrapped this section in 2015. Only the centre, and not the states, had received a notice in relation to this issue in the past In response, the Center has informed the court about the fact that it had sent advisories to the states several times and asked them to comply with the court’s decision. However, the police departments of states are still registering cases under this section.
What is it all about?
Under Section 66A added to the IT Act in 2009, the police were empowered to arrest anyone on the basis of what they wrote on the Internet. A number of petitions were filed in the Supreme Court on the basis of its misuse across the country. On March 24 2015, a bench comprising of Justices J Chelameswar and Rohinton Nariman of the Supreme Court, termed Section 66A as a violation of the fundamental right to expression and personal liberty, while delivering the verdict on these petitions. With this, the court scrapped the section.
Last month, the court heard a new petition filed by the NGO People’s Union For Civil Liberty (PUCL). This petition informed the court that the police in many states is still using this section. This section has been cited in 1307 cases, even after it being scrapped in 2015. After this, a bench comprising of Justices Rohinton Nariman, KM Joseph and BR Gavai asked the Center to clarify the position.
‘This is highly shocking and disturbing’
In the last hearing held on July 5, senior advocate Sanjay Parikh had conducted the cross-examination on behalf of the petitioner. He had told the court that information about the Supreme Court’s decision has been sent to all the High Courts. The High Court has also issued appropriate directions to the lower courts. However, the police is still citing this section in an FIR. After hearing him, the bench’s chairman Justice Nariman said, “It is shocking and disturbing that people are still facing this section.”