After the arrest of a PUCL leader in Andhra Pradesh for making an “objectionable” post against the Governor on a social networking site, an application was filed in the Supreme Court seeking an order to restrain state governments from invoking harsh Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.
Law student Shreya Singhal filed an interlocutory application to her PIL already pending in the SC, challenging legal validity of the legal provision. She sought restraint orders against the authorities from taking any coercive action in such cases till the verdict was pronounced in the matter.
Section 66A of IT Act deals with punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service., which cause annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enemity, hatred or ill will. A bench of Justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra posted the application for hearing on Thursday.
PUCL leader Jaya Vindhyalaya, who has now been released, was taken into custody for posting allegedly derogatory comments on Facebook on Chirala MLA Amanchi Krisna Mohan and Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah.
Acting on a complaint filed by Mohan, police invoked the provisions of Section 66A of the IT Act and Section 120B (Conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
Singhal had last year filed the PIL after two girls, Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan, were arrested in Palghar in Thane district under Section 66A of IT Act after one of them posted a comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray's death and the other responded with a ‘like’ it.
On a notice issued by the apex court, the Centre had defended the provisions of the law and maintained it did not curb freedom of speech.