The Supreme Court, on Wednesday, stated that no one should be punished under Section 66-A of the (IT) Information Technology Act of 2000, which has been repealed, in light of the fact that law enforcement authorities are still using it to make arrests.
Furthermore, the Home Secretary and the Director Generals of Police of the states were asked by a three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India U U Lalit to instruct their officers not to file any complaints regarding violations of Section 66-A, and to ensure that all cases currently pending do not make reference to the provision, which was deemed unconstitutional by the court in the Shreya Singhal case in 2015.
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In the case of Shreya Singhal vs the Union government of India, the two-judge bench of the Supreme Court, invalidated Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Moreover, the section related to restrictions on the online speech/internet communication, was ruled unconstitutional on the basis of violating the guaranteed freedom of speech under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. Additionally, it was decided that online intermediaries would only have to remove content upon receiving a request from a court or government agency.
Moreover, the apex court expressed “serious concern” when it heard the PIL on September 6 and asked Advocate Zoheb Hossain, who represented the Centre, to “get in touch with the concerned Chief Secretaries of the respective states where the offences are still being registered or stand registered and impress upon” them “to take remedial measures as soon as possible.”
This was in response to states continuing to file FIRs for violations of the provision. Furthermore, on Wednesday, Advocate Hossain submitted a status report highlighting the statistical data on such cases before the bench also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and S Ravindra Bhat.
Subsequently, the bench took note and stated in its order that Section 66-A had already been declared illegal and that no citizen could be charged under it. Additionally, the reference to and reliance on Section 66A will stand deleted in all instances where citizens are being prosecuted for violations of that section.