By: ENS Economic Bureau & PTI
The government welcomed the Supreme Court decision striking down Section 66(A) of the IT Act, though it had defended the constitutional validity of its provisions of the IT Act.
Telecom and IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said the government respects the right to freedom of speech and expression on social media and has no intention of curbing it. “Once in government, it (BJP) took its opposition to the draconian provisions of 66A on record in court proceedings.
New affidavits filed by NDA government in the Honourable Supreme Court clearly show the marked difference in the approach from UPA government. “Our government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a very conscious decision that we don’t support the stand of the previous government,” Prasad was quoted as saying by PTI.
Distancing the government from the provisions that were drafted by the UPA government, Prasad added that the BJP when it was in opposition had “resolutely stood up against the censorship and blocking on social media done by UPA government.”
Stressing that there can be no parallel between the stand of the NDA with that of the previous UPA regime, the minister said the UPA tried to make this law an instrument to curb dissent, satire and anything else which did not suit it.
However, pointing out that only a portion of Section 66(A) deals with issues that can raise questions on freedom of speech and expression, Prasad said that reasonable restrictions apply on social media just like in routine life in the physical world under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution of India.
“We will have to understand that we cannot set a different standard of public morality for speech and expression in cyberspace from speech in other mediums and in the public domain,” he stressed.
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