The Supreme Court of India. (Source: PTI)

Section 66A: Supreme Court Seeks Government’s Reply Over Use Of Scrapped Cyber Law

The Supreme Court issued a notice to the central government and sought its reply for not preventing arrests under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 struck down nearly three years ago.

A bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said the officials concerned will be sent to jail if it is found that the scrapped section is still being used, newswire PTI reported.

This comes after a petition filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties alleged that the dead cyber law—that allowed people to be jailed for online posts which could be considered offensive—continues to be applied in the legal system. About 22 people have been arrested under the scrapped law ever since it was struck down in 2015, it claimed. BloombergQuint has reviewed a copy of the petition.

“A recent working paper by the Internet Freedom Foundation demonstrates that pending prosecutions under Section 66A has not been terminated, and further that it continues to be invoked by police across India in first information reports registered after the judgment in Shreya Singhal (Union government vs Shreya Singhal, 2015),” the petition said.

Given several quashing pleas have been filed before high courts, according to the petition, it is apparent that trial courts and prosecutors are not actively implementing the decision of the Supreme Court. So, the “burden of terminating illegal prosecutions based on Section 66A is unfairly falling upon accused persons’’, it said.

A two-judge Supreme Court bench comprising Justice J Chelameswar and Justice Nariman in 2015 struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act finding it to be vague and in violation of the fundamental right of free speech.

Also read: Police Continue To Make Arrests Using Section 66A Of IT Act, Struck Down By Supreme Court Three Years Ago