Life with Section 66A

Life with Section 66A

The first ‘casualty’ recalls horror

»He is no lawyer or judge, but the 47-year old Puducherry salesman R Ravi Srinivasan has been in court regularly since 2012 for reportedly tweeting against then Union minister P Chidambaram's son Karti, reports DHNS from Chennai.
On Tuesday, Srinivasan heaved a sigh of relief after the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the IT Act, which allows the police to arrest people for posting “offensive content” on the Internet.

"Ten times I have been there (court). I was scared even this morning (on Tuesday) too since my next hearing was on March 27,” said Srinivasan, perhaps the first person in the country be arrested after posting “derogatory remarks” against a politician in Twitter.

“I am totally relieved now. It was a great decision by the Supreme Court. Justice prevailed and freedom of speech was restored,” he said.

Srinivasan, also Puducherry secretary of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and a volunteer with India Against Corruption, had on October 20 had tweeted that he had got reports that Karti Chidambaram had amassed more wealth than Robert Vadra. Subsequently, Srinivasan was arrested under Section 66A of the IT Act on a complaint lodged by Karti with the Inspector General of Police.

Recollecting his experience of the early-morning arrest, Srinivasan said: “It was on October 30, 2012, about 5 am. I was in deep sleep. The police stormed into my house and pulled me out before arresting me.” The cops reportedly informed he was charged following a complaint filed by Karti, in which he accused him of malicious intent to defame a person. He was produced before a judicial magistrate and released on bail that evening.
When girls incurred Shiv Sena’s wrath

»Known for its fish, custard apples and coconuts, the sleepy town of Palghar was catapulted to national headlines after the demise of Bal Thackeray on November 17, 2012, reports DHNS from Mumbai.

Shaheen Dhada, then 21, posted a Facebook comment questioning the need for a total shutdown that followed the Shiv Sena leader’s death. Her friend Renu Srinivasan, then 20, “liked” the comment.

Both were subsequently arrested following a complaint by a local Shiv Sena leader.
An angry mob vandalised the orthopaedic clinic of Shaheen’s uncle Rafique Dhada’s, resulting in the round-up of 10 people by the Thane police.

The girls were charged under IPC Sections 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 505 (2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes).

However, it was the invocation of the controversial Section 66(A) of the IT act which gave police the power to arrest them. The girls tendered unconditional apology and Shaheen vowed not to go on Facebook again.

“This is the last time I will ever come or create an account on any social networking site,” she had said.

“I regret what I did. This should not have happened. I never dreamt that I would be in court,” Renu had stated back then, adding that they did not commit any crime to deserve the punishment.

Bareilly boy’s brush with Azam Khan

»Bonhomie replaced an atmosphere of shock and anger in the house of the Class 12 student who had been arrested for making “objectionable comments” against UP minister Azam Khan on FB, after the Supreme Court on Tuesday scrapped Section 66A of the IT Act, reports PTI from Bareilly in UP.

There was a mood of celebration at the boy’s house, with locals rejoicing the apex court terming Section 66A of the IT Act “unconstitutional”.

The 18-year-old boy was arrested on March 18 and released on bail the next day by a local court.

The SP leader had himself told reporters that the boy had made “objectionable comments” against him on FB. The school student told reporters that his entire family was upset after the incident, and even his relatives were afraid of visiting his family.

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