The Karnataka High Court Thursday imposed a fine and sought an unconditional apology from two police officers in Bengaluru for charging a First Information Report (FIR) under section 66 (A) of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, which was struck down by the Supreme Court.
The officers—Assistant Sub Inspector M Somanna and Police Inspector Ravi Patil— have been asked to pay Rs 10,000 each for registering the case and initiating criminal proceedings under the law, “which is not in statute book”, terming it a “clear abuse” of the law.
The court maintained that “this is a case in which police have initiated criminal proceedings invoking provisions of law which is not in statute book. Police have initially recorded the complaint as NCR and for reasons best known the very same officer has registered FIR after one week. This is nothing but a clear abuse of process of law and harassment to the citizen.”
The order pronounced by Justice P S Dinesh Kumar also directed the officers from Srirampura police station to pay the cost to the Registrar General of the HC within four weeks.
The petitioner— Sharada D R, a resident of KR Puram in the city—had approached the court claiming that a non-cognisable report was first filed against her on April 17, 2019, under section 66(A) of the IT Act. Later, an FIR was filed on April 25, 2019, which led to her approaching the court to quash the same.
It can be recalled the Supreme Court termed the law “unconstitutional” calling it “draconian” in a judgment pronounced in March 2015.
However, multiple instances were reported from various states including Kerala and Gujarat that the same continued to be used to prosecute persons.
The cyber law provided power to arrest a person for posting allegedly “offensive” content on websites, questioning the freedom of expression which the Constitution of India offers to its citizens.
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