The Supreme Court on directed the Maharashtra government to explain the circumstances under which its police arrested two girls from Palghar in Thane district for posting comments on Facebook on the November 18, 2012 shutdown for Bal Thackeray’s funeral.

“The Maharashtra government is directed to explain the circumstances under which the two girls — Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan — were arrested for posting comments made by them on Facebook,” a bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar said.

The bench asked the State government to file its response within four weeks on the public interest litigation filed by Shreya Singhal, a Delhi student.

The bench also made as parties the governments of West Bengal and Puducherry where similar incidents had happened in the recent past.

It also issued notice to the Delhi government along with them and sought their response within four weeks and posted the matter for hearing after six weeks.

Attorney-General G.E. Vahanvati, whose assistance was sought by the court, said, “Please examine section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and I will assist the court on this issue.”

The AG also referred to the guidelines which say that cases to be registered under the provision of the IT Act has to be decided by senior police officials of the ranks of DGP for cases pertaining to rural areas and IGP for metros.

“This can’t be done by the head of the police stations,” the AG said, adding that this was a matter which required the court’s consideration.

Meanwhile, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Ms. Singhal, sought a direction from the court that no cases be registered across the country unless such complaints are seen and approved by the DGP of the state concerned.

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