Apex court sets terms for arrest under IT Act

Apex court sets terms for arrest under IT Act

The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered that no person should be arrested for posting “objectionable” comments on networking sites sans permission from senior police officers.

A bench of justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra, however, refused to put a blanket ban on such arrests.

The court said the Centre’s January 9 advisory, which stated that a person should not be arrested without permission from IG, DCP or SP level officers under Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, should be complied with.

“We direct the state governments to ensure compliance with the guidelines before  any arrest,” the bench said.

The court also said it cannot restrain states from arresting people since the challenged provision has not been stayed by a separate bench examining its constitutional validity.

The court was hearing an interlocutory application filed by law student Shreya Singhal in her PIL already pending before the Supreme Court. She sought a restrain order barring authorities from taking coercive action in such cases till verdict was pronounced.

The plea was filed in the wake of the arrest and subsequent release of PUCL leader Jaya Vindhyalaya by the Andhra Pradesh Police.

Acting on a complaint filed by Mohan, the police invoked Section 66A of the IT Act and Section 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.

Singhal filed the PIL last year following the arrest of Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan in Palghar, Thane district, under Section 66A of the IT Act.

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