Section 66A a necessary deterrent, says government

‘It should be interpreted on a case by case basis’

February 26, 2015 01:36 am | Updated November 16, 2021 10:25 pm IST - NEW DELHI:

The government on Wednesday argued before the Supreme Court that Section 66A of the Information Technology Act should be interpreted on a case by case basis.

In arguments which continued through the day before a Bench led by Justice J. Chelameswar, the government was addressing the court’s view that the penal provision was too vague. Section 66A prescribes a three-year jail term to a person found guilty of causing “annoyance or inconvenience” through social media.

The court had asked the government to explain what constituted “grossly offensive.” The government maintained that the provision was a necessary deterrent and could not be cast away on the apprehension that it would be misused to affect the freedom of speech and expression.

“If the medicine is bitter, then we can have sugar after it instead of throwing the medicine [away]. People have to take the medicine as it is for their benefit,” Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued during an earlier hearing.

The court is hearing a bunch of petitions challenging the validity of certain provisions in the 2000 Act. One of the petitions filed is by Shreya Singhal, a law student, which deals with the arrest of two girls, Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan, in Thane, Maharashtra, in connection with a comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s death.

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