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The Supreme Court on Tuesday said it is a matter of grave concern that Section-66A of the Information Technology Act is still being invoked even though it was declared unconstitutional in 2015. The court also directed the chief secretaries of the respective states to withdraw the case within three weeks.
Section 66A provides for three years of imprisonment and fine for sending objectionable messages through a computer device aimed at annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill-will, etc. The provision was struck down by the top court in 2015, declaring it unconstitutional.
A bench of CJI Uday Umesh Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat asked the central government to ask states not to use this provision. Apart from this, directed the Central Government’s lawyer Zoheb Hussain to contact the Chief Secretaries of the respective states.
The Supreme Court has given this order when senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for the petitioner organization PUCL, presented the details of the cases registered under Section-66A of the IT Act even after the verdict in the Shreya Singhal case.
Hearing will be held after three weeks
During the hearing, the top court said that even after the official announcement, the registration of a case under this section is surprising. The bench asked the Center to take remedial measures at the earliest by contacting the chief secretaries of the states. Along with this, notices were also issued to all the states and high courts. The bench said that the court will now consider the matter after three weeks.
- Thousands of cases have been registered: Petitioner organization PUCL claimed that even after the Supreme Court’s decision, thousands of cases were registered in the country. In Jharkhand, 40 cases are pending in courts under this provision, while in Madhya Pradesh 145 cases were taken cognizance by the state machinery and 113 cases are pending in courts.
- On July 5 last year also, the top court had said that it is shocking that even after the removal of Section-66A of the IT Act, cases are being registered against people.