SC scraps sec 66A of IT Act, says it curbs netizens' right

The Supreme Court today has decided to strike down the section 66A of the IT Act, 2000, terming it unconstitutional and vague

Soma Tah
New Update

NEW DELHI, INDIA: In a landmark judgement upholding freedom of expression the Supreme Court today has struck down the section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, terming it unconstitutional and vague.


The decision has been hailed by IT activists and citizens alike.

This section was not in the original IT Act, but added as an amendment of the act in 2009. According to the Sec. 66A of IT Act, “Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device

(a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or


(b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will

(c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.


The apex court passed this verdict today after hearing a number of PILs challenging the validity of section 66A of the IT Act, which gave scopes for an arbitrary interpretation and misuse of the provision by police and often in conflict with the fundamental right to freedom of expression guaranteed by the article 19(1)(a) of the constitution.

The contention by most of the petitioners was that the section 66A gives scopes for an arbitrary interpretation and misuse of the provision by police.

The matter first drew public notice after a petition filed by a law student, Shreya Singhal challenging the constitutional validity of the section, following the arrest of two Maharashtra girls – Shaheen Dhanda and Rinu Shrinivasan – for posting comments on the Mumbai bandh after the death of Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray.


However, the central government was defending the section saying that the cyber world cannot be left unregulated for the fear of possible misuse.

Digital Marketing expert and founder White Rivers Digital, Shrenik Gandhi said, "Sec 66A was not only hampering the right to speak freely but would have also negatively impacted the Indian online community, which could have had a long term impact on commerce and India's advantage against China and other emerging super powers of being an open friendly online community."

Welcoming the judgement, R. Chandrashekhar, President, NASSCOM, said, “Internet as a medium is meant to be free and transcend territorial borders with minimal regulation and monitoring. The IT Act has well served the objective to provide the legal framework for data security and internet laws in the country. The changes enabled by the Supreme Court judgement would provide much needed boost to the citizens of the country and help the objective of a digitally connected India.”

Further, Supreme Court’s reading down of the provision under section 79(3)(b), will now make it necessary to take legal permission from a court to take down any content with the exception that the government can still issue orders to block access to websites under 69A rules. This will reduce liability on intermediaries and will go a long-way in setting up a free, fair and independent ecosystem, said NASSCOM.

tech-news smac