Three eminent panellists shared their views and answered questions from readers on the Supreme Court verdict striking down Section 66 A of the IT Act that allowed the arrest of people posting “offensive content” on the Internet, in a live chat hosted by The Hindu .
Does this now mean anything goes on the Internet, asked one reader.
“No, the standard penal laws — against defamation, hate speech (S. 153A), religious incitement (S. 295A) — continue to apply,” said Gautam Bhatia, a practicing lawyer and author of forthcoming book “Offend, shock or disturb: Free Speech under the Constitution.” The argument that the Internet needed separate rules when it came to the content of speech was what was rejected by the Court, he said.
What was the rationale for the Court upholding Section 69 A, allowing the blocking of websites, asked another.
“One wishes that the court had paid as much attention to the blocking orders as they did to 66A,” said Lawrence Liang, lawyer and researcher at Alternative Law Forum working on free speech.
Geetha Hariharan, a Programme Officer at Centre for Internet and Society, focusing on Internet governance and freedom of expression, was the third expert on the panel.
Click >here to read the full transcript of the chat