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Section 66A of IT Act: SC issues notice
The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to all states and Union Territories for registering cases under the repealed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, Live Law reported.
The top court had struck down Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional in 2015. The provision allowed the police to make arrests for posting offensive content online.
On July 5 this year, a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman had observed that it was distressing and shocking to find out that the police were still filing cases under the scrapped provision. In a petition, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties alleged misuse of Section 66A by authorities across the country.
Nariman and Justice J Chelameswar had delivered the 2015 Shreya Singhal judgement, stating that the provision was vague and worded arbitrarily.
In a counter affidavit filed in the case, the government said the police and public order were “state subjects” under the Constitution of India. It said that states and law enforcement agencies share equal responsibility to ensure citizens are not booked by the police under Section 66A.
During Monday’s hearing, Justice Nariman sought responses from all states and directed that a notice be issued to Registrar Generals of all High Courts. “This must be done within a period of four weeks from today,” the judge said.
Nariman told senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for PUCL, that it wants to pass a “comprehensive order” as the police is a state subject.
Parikh said that there were two aspects in this matter, one was the police and the other was judiciary where such cases were still being tried.
“Judiciary we can take care of separately but police is also there,” the court said. “There must be one proper order in this because this cannot continue.”
On July 14, the Centre had directed states and Union Territories to immediately withdraw all existing cases under Section 66A.
“Prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes, and capacity building of police personnel are primary responsibility of states,” the Centre submitted in its affidavit. “The law enforcement agencies take legal action as per provisions of law against the cyber crime offenders and accordingly the LEAs share equal responsibility to comply with the said  judgement.”
Meanwhile, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties told the Supreme Court that the steps taken by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology to implement the Shreya Singhal judgement are “far from adequate”, according to Live Law.
Advocate Aparna Bhat, also representing PUCL, said the Centre should not have shirked its obligation by saying that the responsibility of implementation of the 2015 verdict lies with the states. The submission was made in a rejoinder affidavit. Scroll.in
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