The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that the country was outraged when two young women were arrested in Mumbai recently for posting comments in social networking websites, and decided to examine the constitutional validity of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
A Bench of Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar, entertaining a writ petition that challenged the vires of the provision, asked the Attorney-General to be present in the court on Friday when the matter would be taken up for further hearing.
Earlier, senior counsel Mukul Rohatgi brought to the court’s notice the arrest of the two girls and how the law was being misused for sharing messages on social networking websites.
In her writ petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, Shreya Singhal said recent events had had a chilling effect on her and crores of other Internet users.
Section 66A says: “Any person who sends by means of a computer resource or a communication device any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill-will, persistently makes by making use of such computer resource or a communication device, any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”
The petitioner contended that the Section was so wide and vague and incapable of being judged on objective standards that it was susceptible to wanton abuse. Contending that it was violative of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, she wanted it declared unconstitutional, and an interim stay on its operation.
Earlier intervening, senior counsel Harish Salve said the issue had far-reaching consequences.