Supreme Court scraps 'draconian' Section 66A of IT Act

MUMBAI: In a landmark judgement the Indian Supreme Court today scrapped the 'draconian' Section 66A of the IT Act, which provides the power to arrest a person for posting allegedly offensive content online.

The court ruled that the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act was unconstitutional.

The move comes in the wake of multiple arrests that have been made over the last year of citizens for posting their personal views on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. The latest was the arrest of a teenager from Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh last week. The Class 12 student was arrested and sent to jail for a Facebook post about senior Uttar Pradesh minister Azam Khan.

The order was delivered by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court on petitions filed by civil rights groups and a law student, who argued that Section 66A violated people's fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. In the judgment, the Supreme Court said, “There is a difference between discussion, advocacy and incitement. Discussion and advocacy, no matter how annoying, is allowed.”

The Supreme Court’s move has been lauded by members of the film and media fraternity online, who took to Twitter to express their views on the verdict.

Journalist turned filmmaker Pritish Nandy tweeted, “Section 66A of the IT Act, the noxious, draconian law has been struck down by the Supreme Court. Restores our faith in democracy. What an achievement! @karunanundy #66A, the black act goes.”

Director Madhur Bhandarkar said, “Landmark judgement by Hon Supreme Court as it strikes down Sec 66A of IT Act. Freedom of thought & expression rightly upheld in a democracy.”

Filmmaker Shekhar Kapur added, “As Supreme Court has quashed #Sec66A, its time for every1 to realise growing power of #socialmedia… a powerful tool 2 be used responsibly.”

Actress Suchitra Krishnamurty tweeted, “Yippee #Sec66A has been scrapped. So our freedom of speech is back. Can we have a law to scrap/challenge bans imposed by Govt too?”

Journalist Sagarika Ghosh expressed her views by tweeting this, “Now that #Sec66A gone, in same spirit will GOI apologise to Priya Pillai, allow Wendy Doniger, un-ban books, stop calling media anti-national?”

India Today consulting editor Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted, “The only exception to free speech must remain hate speech and incitement to violence. Defamation/slander as per common law. #Sec66A”

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