Despite being scrapped in 2015, the Supreme Court on Monday, July 5, expressed that it was shocked and amazed by the continued use of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, to book people under the section.
Section 66A of the IT Act allows the police to punish any online communication, based on their subjective discretion, as grossly offensive, menacing, or to cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, or insult, cause injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will. This section was struck down by the Apex Court on March 24, 2015.
A bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman, KM Joseph, and BR Gavai were hearing a plea filed by an NGO, the Public Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), urging the Court to direct the Centre to advise all the police stations against registering FIRs under the scrapped section.
"Isn't It Amazing," Asks Court
"Don't you think this is amazing and shocking? Shreya Singhal judgment is of 2015. It's really shocking. What is going on is terrible," the bench told senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for PUCL, reported Firstpost.
Parikh said that despite directions from the court that the state governments should sensitise police personnel about the Shreya Singhal judgment, thousands of cases are filed under the sections.
On this, the court said, "Yes, we have those figures. Don't worry we will do something about that."
Parikh said that the increase of cases under Section 66A is a violation of Article 19(1)(a), which gives rights to speech and expression.
He also said that it is not saved under Article 19(2), which gives powers to states to impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of this right, reported The Indian Express.
Section 66A Still Remains In The Act
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the bench that Section 66A still remains in the Act though it was struck down by the division bench.
"When police have to register a case, the section is still there and there is only a footnote that the Supreme Court has struck it down," he said, adding that there has to be a bracket in 66A with the words struck down".