March 25th, 2015
The end of Section 66A, the controversial law that allowed arrests for offensive content online, marks a big victory for Shreya Singhal, the young law student who was among the first to challenge it in the Supreme Court.
The turning point was the Palghar case, Almost everyone condemned the arrest of the two girls for posting comments on the Mumbai bandh (post Bal Thackeray’s death) on Facebook. Shreya filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) in the Supreme Court challenging Section 66(A) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.
“I was so shocked. The post was so innocuous. I could have written it. If they got arrested, I or my friends could be arrested in the future too,” says Singhal, who had a conversation about it with her mother, Supreme Court lawyer Manali Singhal.
Singhal, who will be the fifth generation lawyer in her family once she formally qualifies, says she is thrilled with the judgment. However, the student, who says she has about 800 Facebook friends, cautions against taking this as a free pass for posting hate speech or defamatory comments.
“There are other provisions in the IT Act, and also in the IPC that deal with unlawful content,” says Singhal, who filed a petition in the Supreme Court shortly after returning from her studies in the UK in 2012.