The Ministry of Home Affairs requested the state governments and police chiefs to drop all the cases filed under the scrapped Section 66A of the IT Act on Wednesday, July 14.
The direction from the ministry comes days after the Supreme Court observed registering cases under Section 66A as 'shocking', reported Hindustan Times.
The Apex Court in 2015 had scrapped the section after declaring it unconstitutional. The scrapped law was reportedly used in several instances by the governments to arrest people for posting a comment on social media.
Over 1K Cases Registered Under Section 66A
People Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which is an NGO, had filed a petition in the court that over 1,300 cases were registered under the scrapped law in the past six years. It was six years ago, in 2015, the Supreme Court had revoked Section 66A of the IT Act, the case which is recognised as the Shreya Singhal judgment. During the hearing on July 5, the bench had said, "What is this going on? This is shocking and distressing..."
Advisories to Chief Secretaries and Police Chiefs
Days after the observation, the central government issued an advisory to the state governments and police chiefs prohibiting the use of the law. "It has been brought to our notice through an application in the Supreme Court that FIRs are still being lodged by some police authorities under the struck down provision of Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000. The Supreme Court has taken a very serious view of the matter," the advisory read, according to Hindustan Times.
The MHA requested the police chiefs and chief secretaries to immediately withdraw cases registered under the repealed Section 66A of the IT Act. It has also asked the authorities to sensitise the police officials for the compliance of the Supreme Court order.
Though the section was struck down by the apex court in 2015, as many as 332 cases were filed under the section in the same year. In 2016, 216 cases were registered, which increased to 290 in 2017. In 2018, 253 cases were filed and 34 until February 2020, reported Hindustan Times.