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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Centre to Maharashtra: Sensitise police, ensure no case filed under Section 66 (A)

The advisory came after the Supreme Court last month expressed shock that police forces across the country were continuing to register cases under Section 66 (A) though it was quashed six years ago.

Written by Mohamed Thaver | Mumbai |
Updated: August 5, 2021 1:24:30 am
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. (File)

The central government last week sent an advisory to the Maharashtra government, asking it to sensitise police personnel across the state to ensure that no cases are registered under Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000, which was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015.

The state has also been asked to withdraw cases registered under the section anytime after 2015.

The advisory came after the Supreme Court last month expressed shock that police forces across the country were continuing to register cases under Section 66 (A) though it was quashed six years ago.

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), an NGO, in their plea before the Supreme Court pointed out that several states had registered thousands of cases under the section even after it was quashed.

An official from the Maharashtra government told The Indian Express, “We have received an advisory from the Central government regarding Section 66 (A). We have been advised to ensure that personnel at police stations across the state are sensitised about not registering cases under the section. We have also been asked to ensure that cases registered post the judgment are withdrawn.”

The official added that a notice will be sent to the district superintendents and police commissioners to ensure that cases are not registered under the section.

On March 24, 2015, in the case of Shreya Singhal vs Union of India, the top court struck down Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The apex court found the law “in its entirety being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2)”, and that “it is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right”.

PUCL informed the SC through its lawyer that Maharashtra had registered 349 cases under the section before it was struck down, and 381 FIRs following the judgment.

The Centre informed the Supreme Court on February 21, 2019, that the Maharashtra government had informed it that it complied with the apex court’s judgment and that no “no prosecution had been initiated post March 24, 2015, under Section 66 (A)”.

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