The Union dwelling ministry on Wednesday requested state governments and police chiefs to instantly withdraw circumstances registered underneath the repealed Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act and to cease registering such circumstances. The transfer got here days after the Supreme Court expressed shock over the continued registration of circumstances underneath the repealed Section.

The Supreme Court on March 24, 2015, struck down a much-abused Section, which authorised police to arrest folks for social media posts construed to be “offensive” or “menacing”.

The NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties knowledgeable the court docket this month that 229 such circumstances had been pending in 11 states. After the supply was repealed, police in these states lodged 1,307 new circumstances underneath it.

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“What is going on? It is terrible…shocking. It is distressing,” a bench, headed by Justice Rohinton F Nariman, remarked on July 5. The bench requested the federal government to give you a response to make sure police cease invoking Section 66A of the Act in First Information Reports (FIRs).

In its advisory despatched to the chief secretaries and director generals of police, the ministry stated on Wednesday: “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. Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken a very serious view of the matter.”

The ministry stated it’s due to this fact requested to direct all of the police stations to not register circumstances underneath the repealed Section 66A of the IT Act and sensitise the legislation enforcement businesses for the compliance of the Supreme Court order.

It directed the chief secretaries and police chiefs to withdraw such circumstances. “If any case has been booked in your state under Section 66A of the IT Act, it should immediately be withdrawn.”

The Supreme Court has referred to as Section 66A “open-ended and unconstitutionally vague”. It stated nothing in need of quashing the legislation in its entirety may suffice since this provision “arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately” invaded the precise to free speech, proper to dissent, proper to know, and had a “chilling effect” on constitutional mandates.

Section 66A criminalised “grossly offensive” or “menacing character” messages despatched in type of textual content, audio, video, photographs, or another digital document. It supplied for the punishment of as much as three years in jail.

Even although the Section was struck down in March 2015, 332 circumstances had been filed underneath it the identical 12 months. In 2016, 216 circumstances had been registered and 290 in 2017, 318 in 2018, 253 in 2019, and 34 till February 2020, as reported by HT final week.

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