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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 directed the chief secretaries of the respective states to withdraw the matter 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.
Contempt case against Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla closed

The Supreme Court on Tuesday closed the contempt case against Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla. There was contempt on the violation of the order dated April 15, 2019, regarding maintenance of status quo for promotion of officers from Home Secretary.

A bench of CJI UU Lalit and Justice S Ravindra Bhat said, “We do not see any reason to entertain this contempt petition. The Supreme Court passed the order after hearing Attorney General KK Venugopal and Kumar Parimal, appearing for petitioner Debanand Sahu. In the affidavit filed in the Supreme Court, Bhalla had said that there was no contempt.

Undue sympathy by reducing punishment will affect trust in law
The Supreme Court has said that the seriousness of the offense should be the prime consideration for deciding the appropriate punishment, if undue sympathy is shown by reducing the punishment to the minimum, then this law can adversely affect the faith of the people. The top court said that the court has to always take into account the gravity and circumstances of the sentence.

A bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice AS Oka was hearing against a decision of the Bombay High Court. The Supreme Court extended the sentence for another six months in addition to one year. In fact, in 1992, the High Court reduced the sentence of four accused from three years to one year.

The apex court in its judgment held that one of the accused had died and the appeal filed by the complainant stands quashed against him. As far as punishment is concerned, judicial discretion is always guided by various considerations such as the gravity of the offence, the circumstances in which the offense was committed, and the background of the accused.

The lower court did not take it seriously
The bench observed that there were 11 wounds on the body of the appellant. But despite the grievous injury, the trial court did not take it seriously and sentenced only three years, whereas there is a provision of life imprisonment under section 326 of the IPC. The bench also directed the three accused to pay an additional Rs 40,000 to the appellant and the injured eyewitness.

Expansion

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.

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