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SC scraps 66A: Sena, JD(U) disagree, others welcome decision

Sharad Yadav disagreed saying freedom of speech does not mean "freedom to abuse".

By: Press Trust of India | New Delhi | March 24, 2015 6:54:07 pm
Supreme Court, section 66a Supreme Court of India

Most parties on Tuesday welcomed Supreme Court’s move to scrap a provision that made posting offensive comments online punishable with jail term with Congress admitting to flaws in the law.

JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav disagreed saying that though he respects judiciary, it was wrong to struck down the “good” provision as freedom of speech does not mean “freedom to abuse” while Shiv Sena felt it would weaken the hands of law enforcement agencies.

The Left parties and Aam Aadmi Party accused both BJP and Congress of taking the “same anti-democratic position” on the issue in the court.

Former Union Minister P Chidambaram, who was part of the UPA government that introduced the controversial provision in 2008, welcomed the Supreme Court judgement holding Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional, saying it was poorly drafted and misused.

“I welcome the judgement of the Supreme Court holding that Section 66A of the IT Act is unconstitutional.

“The section was poorly drafted and was vulnerable. It was capable of being misused and, in fact, it was misused,” he said.

Congress leader Manish Tewari said section 66A was hurting the Freedom of Expression. “We welcome the decision. It (section 66A) was used by the authorities in a very knee-jerk manner. 66A was an antithesis of the Right of Freedom and Expression guaranteed by Article 19 (2).

“The Supreme court has arrived at an appropriate decision. Section 66A has put too much of arbitrary power in law enforcing agencies and not withstanding the safeguard we attempted to build into it,” Tewari said.

BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said the verdict was consistent with the stand of the party and the Narendra Modi government.

Though its counsel had defended the constitutional validity of Section 66A of IT Act, the Modi Government maintained that it respects freedom of speech and expression and is not in favour curbing dissent on social media.

It stressed that it had differed from UPA’s stand in the court on the issue.

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