The Bhainsa police booked two locals for promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion, abandoning their plan to charge them under Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act for their Facebook post against MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi.
The police had planned to include this section in the First Information Report (FIR), but backed off as they did not obtain permission from the Inspector-General of Police concerned, in keeping with a rule the Union government laid down for filing cases under the Act.
The arrest of Brajesh Vyas and Navender Murari grabbed headlines, coming as it did after Mr. Owaisi’s ‘hate speech’ stirred up a controversy.
The police were circumspect after the nationwide furore sparked by the arrest of Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivas of Mumbai in November 2012 for their Facebook comments after the death of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray.
But the Bhainsa police plan to include the IT Act in the charge sheet, after completing due formalities.
The Act provides for imprisonment up to three years in jail.
A senior police officer, who declined to be quoted, drew a distinction between the two incidents to justify the police’s intent to charge the arrested persons under Section 66(A) of the IT Act.
The nature of the Facebook comments by the Mumbai women pertained only to freedom of speech, but the comments made by those arrested in Bhainsa violated the law to curb communal hatred, he said.
“There is a danger of the social media being misused for different kinds of crimes, including spreading communal hatred. We need to enforce the IT Act strictly as a measure of deterrence,” opines the official.