Srinagar, March 04: Section 66-A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 was struck down on Tuesday by Supremo Court.
Terming section 66A illegal, Bench of Justices J Chelameswar and RF Marian said that the verdict on a PIL filed against the section in a packed courtroom, empowering the police to arrest a person for allegedly posting ‘offensive materials’ on social networking sites, violate the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression.
The Bench further added, “The public’s right to know is directly affected by Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act.”
“Our Constitution provides for liberty of thought, expression and belief. In a democracy, these values have to be provided within constitutional scheme,” said Justice Nariman, pronouncing the verdict.
“There is no nexus between public order and discussion or causing annoyance by dissemination of information. Curbs under Section 66A of the IT Act infringes on the public right to know.”
Calling the written word of the provision, which comprises terms such as ‘”annoying”, “inconvenient” and “grossly offensive”, vague, the apex court said: “What may be offensive to a person, may not be offensive to others”.
The assurance given by one government was not binding on its successor, the Bench said. “Governments come and go but Section 66-A will remain forever,” the bench said.
The SC, however, refused to strike down two other provisions of the IT Act that provide blocking of websites.