Pratiyogita Darpan Current Events Round Up Volume I
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arrest a person for posting allegedly offensive content on websites. The Supreme Court is examining the constitutional validity of Section 66A of the amended Indian Information Technology Act 2000. The bench, however, did not strike down two other provisions Sections 69A and 79 of the IT Act and said that they can remain enforced with certain restrictions. Section 69A provides power to issue directions to block public access of any information through any computer resource and 79 provides for exemption from liability of intermediary in certain cases. Terming liberty of thought and expression as cardinal , a bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and R. F. Nariman said, The public s right to know is directly affected by Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. Justice Nariman also said that the provision clearly affects the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined in the Constitution. Elaborating the grounds for holding the provision as unconstitutional , the Court said that terms like annoying , inconvenient and grossly offensive used in the
What is Section 66A of the IT Act Section 66A defines the punishment for Sending offensive messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in Jail and a fine.
What is Problem with Section 66A of the IT Act The Vagueness about what is offensive . The world has a very wide can notation, and is open to distinctive, varied interpretations. It is subjective, and what may be innocuous for one person may lead to a complaint from someone else and, consequently, an arrest under Section 66A if the police prima facie accepts the latter person s view.
What are the Grounds for the Challenge While the objective behind the 2008 amendment was to prevent the misuse of information technology, particularly through social media, section 66A comes with extremely wide parameters, which allow whimsical interpretations by law enforcement agencies. Most of the terms used in the section have not been specifically defined under the Act. The petition has argued that it is a potential tool to gag legitimate free speech online and to curtail freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the constitution, going for beyond the ambit of reasonable restrictions on that freedom.
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provision are vague as it is difficult for the law enforcement agency and the offender to understand the ingredients of the offence.
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