Shocking people still being booked under law struck down on offensive online messages: SC

Under the scrapped section a person posting offensive messages could be imprisoned for up to three years as also fined.
Supreme Court (Photo| Shekhar Yadav, EPS)
Supreme Court (Photo| Shekhar Yadav, EPS)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre, expressing shock over continued booking of cases under Section 66A of the IT Act that had been struck down way back in 2015. 

The section was meant to punish those sending online communication deemed “grossly offensive and menacing.” The SC had annulled the provision, calling it “vague and arbitrary”.

The notice came on a petition filed by an NGO, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, highlighting that 745 cases under Section 66A are still pending before various trial courts, six years after the SC struck it down in its verdict in the Shreya Singhal vs Union of India case.

As per the plea, 1,307 cases have been filed under the section, since the 2015 judgment. “Don’t you think this is amazing and shocking? What is going on is terrible,” a bench headed by Justice R F Nariman told Attorney General K K Venugopal, and asked him to file a counter-affidavit.

Venugopal informed the bench that the statute book still has Section 66A on it. “If your lordships see the IT Act book, there is only a small asterisk and a footnote that says ‘deleted by order of Supreme Court’. No one reads the footnote,” Venugopal said. He suggested that next to the section, it be mentioned, ‘Struck down by the Supreme Court’ so that the police are not confused.

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The New Indian Express