The Supreme Court was on Friday told that Uttar Pradesh Police would go ahead with the prosecution of a Bareilly boy for allegedly posting objectionable comments on Facebook against senior SP leader Azam Khan only under Indian Penal Code and not under the controversial Section 66A of cyber law which was quashed by the Supreme Court.
A bench comprising justices J Chelameswar and R F Nariman took on record the submission of the state government’s counsel Gaurav Bhatia that since Section 66 A has been quashed by the apex court, the accused will be prosecuted under other penal provisions.
The submission was made by the state agency in response to a March 20 notice seeking its explanation on the
circumstances leading to the arrest of the boy.
Bhatia said now section 66A stands dropped against the boy and the trial would continue for others offences mentioned in the FIR.
Besides section 66A, the case was also registered under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, etc), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace) and 505 (public mischief) of Indian Penal Code.
The notice was issued by the court on a petition alleging violation of the Supreme Court advisory which says that
section 66A of Information Technology Act would not be invoked without consultation of high ranking police officers like IG or DCP.
On March 24, the apex court had struck down the controversial provision in the Information and Technology Act providing for arrest for posting allegedly offencive content on websites, while terming it “unconstitutional”.
The Class XII student was arrested on March 18 for allegedly posting on Facebook ‘objectionable’ comments against
Khan and a local court had sent him to 14-day judicial custody.
However, the 19-year-old youth was granted bail a day after the arrest on furnishing two bail bonds worth Rs 20,000
each and with a direction to cooperate with police during investigation.
The present application questioning his arrest was filed by a Delhi-based girl and law student Shreya Shingal on whose petition the apex court had struck down the controversial provision in the cyber law.
She had sought amendment in Section 66A of the Act, after two girls — Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan — were
arrested in Palghar in Thane district as one of them posted a comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s death and the other ‘liked’ it.
In the present application, Shreya had told the court that she came to know through media about the arrest of the
boy under section 66A of Information Technology Act and other sections of Indian Penal Code. She had referred to media reports that the boy’s parents had clarified that he had only shared the post and didn’t upload it on the social media platform.
However, police had said that the boy had allegedly confessed that he posted the picture which had a statement attributed to Azam Khan, the application said which also referred to reports that the boy also accepted that he didn’t
actually understand the meaning of what he was posting.