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'Shocking, Disturbing': SC Notice to Centre on Cases Under Scrapped Section 66A of IT Act

Supreme Court of India

Supreme Court of India

The Section 66A of the IT Act allowed arrests for posting offensive content on social media sites.

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice in a plea, where the Apex court expressed shock at the police still registering cases under Section 66A of Information Technology Act. The Section 66A of Information Technology Act was struck down by the apex court in March 2015.

“It is shocking, distressing and amazing that police across the country are still registering cases under Section 66A of Information Technology Act", a bench of Justices RF Nariman, KM Joseph and BR Gavai said.

“Amazing. What is going on is terrible," added Justice Nariman

On the request of Senior Advocate Sanjay Parikh to look into these cases, the Court said that it would issue notice.

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Appearing for the Central government, Attorney General KK Venugopal said, “Even if it is struck down by the Division Bench, Section 66A is still there. When police has to register a case, the Section is still there and only has a footnote that the Supreme Court has struck it down. There has to be a bracket in 66A with words ‘struck down’."

Appearing for petitioner NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties, senior advocate Sanjay Parikh said that before Sec 66A was struck down, there were 687 cases filed under it.

However, after the section was struck down, there are as many as 1307 cases, said Parikh.

The Section 66A of the IT Act allowed arrests for posting offensive content on social media sites. The controversial Supreme Court provision made posting offensive material on sites an offence punishable by up to three years in jail.

The section had been widely misused by police in various states to arrest persons for posting critical comments about social and political issues and political leaders on social networking sites.

The court had said such a law hits at the root of liberty and freedom of expression, two cardinal pillars of democracy.

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first published:July 05, 2021, 12:58 IST