The Supreme Court has sought the government’s view on a public interest litigation challenging the legality of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which was invoked by Mumbai police recently to arrest two young women.
A bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice Jasti Chelameswar gave the government a day’s time to respond to the PIL filed by Shreya Singhal, daughter of a lawyer. Section 66 (A) provides for a jail term of up to three years for anyone who uses a computer or any other communication device to send information that is grossly offensive, menacing, causes annoyance or hatred.
“A criminal provision has to be clear and unambiguous,” senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi said while arguing for the petitioner. “This section, for example, makes sending any message that causes annoyance to another, without defining what represented annoyance.”
The girls were arrested for objecting on Facebook to the bandh-like situation in Mumbai following the death of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray. They were released soon after a public outcry.
“Different people have different levels of annoyance. The section is obnoxious,” Rohatgi said, urging the court to either impose a stay on the section or declare that no arrests can be made under it without specific clearance from a senior police officer. The court, however, refused to accept his demand. “Let’s see how much of a bloodbath, the police create for themselves,” Justice Kabir said. The bench then listed the case for further hearing…