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SC verdict on section 66A of IT act

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  23 March 2015 12:00 AM GMT

New Delhi, March 22: The Supreme Court is likely to pronounce its verdict this week on a batch of petitions challenging the contentious section 66A of the Information Technology Act and describing it as vague and ambiguous and beyond ambit of the constitutiol right to freedom of speech. The challenge commenced with Shreya Singhal challenging the constitutiol validity of the section, following the arrest of two girls - Shaheen Dhanda and Rinu Shrinivasan - for posting comments critical of the Mumbai bandh in the wake of the death of Shiv Se supremo Bal Thackeray. The verdict was reserved on February 26 by a bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Rohinton Fali riman. The hearing saw NGOs Common Cause, People’s Union for Civil Liberty, individuals, including self-exiled Bangladesh writer Taslima sreen, and businessman joining the challenge which had seen a repeat hearing after earlier hearing by the bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice S.A. Bobde remained inclusive. Broadly, the contention by most was that the provision was vague which gave a scope for an arbitrary interpretation and misuse of the ambiguous provisions by police. Section 66A reads: “Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource any information that is grossly offensive or has a mecing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.” However, the central government, defending the section, took the stand that the provisions in no way intended to curb the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under article 19 of the constitution, but at the same time, the huge cyber world could not be left unregulated. Bedsides this, the court will conclude hearing on a batch of petitions including by the Supreme Court Advocate on Record Association, and NGO Centre for Public Interest Litigation challenging the Constitution (Ninety-Ninth Amendment) Act, 2014, and the ebling statute, the tiol Judicial Appointment Commission Act, 2014, to set up the panel which will replace the existing collegium system for appointments to the higher judiciary. (IANS)

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