Why Sec 66A is redundant given existing laws curbing speech

I am not sure why, but every CA student has to study the Information Technology Act, before he gets his degree. During this, I had read the IT Act, and I remember being flummoxed by some of the provisions, some other than Section 66A too. I will try to put out some of the dangerous stuff in the IT Act:

66 A Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc. ( Introduced vide ITAA 2008)

Any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,-

a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or

- Advertisement - - Article resumes -

 

b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, or ill will, persistently makes by making use of such computer resource or a communication device,

 

c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages (Inserted vide ITAA 2008) shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two three years and with fine.

The biggest problem here is highlighted in bold. The IT Act nowhere defines what “Grossly Offensive” or “has Menacing Character” means. Twitter trolling can be Menacing? by some definitions yes. This is why Sec 66A has been the most abused and misused. Anyone with a grouse against anyone, and a co-operative cop, can get anybody arrested.

The solution here is either remove the words and replace them with something specific, or define what “Grossly Offensive” or “has Menacing Character” means, or add a proviso which states that until a judge gives a judgement that the material involved is prima facie  “Grossly Offensive” or ” has Menacing Character”, arrest cannot be made. So in fact the outrage should be “Section 66A should be amended” rather than “Section 66A must go”, but when has Twitter Outrage made sense?

Now some more devilish sections which can put you in a soup:

1. 67 Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form (Amended vide ITAA 2008)

Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to to three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

Simple reading: THE MMS’s YOU HAVE BEEN SHARING ON WHATSAPP CAN LAND YOU IN JAIL FOR 3 YEARS, If this section is implemented

2. 67 A Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form (Inserted vide ITAA 2008)

Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

Exception: This section and section 67 does not extend to any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure in electronic form-

(i) the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure is in the interest of science,literature,art,or learning or other objects of general concern; or

(ii) which is kept or used bona fide for religious purposes

Simple Reading: SEND STUFF CONTAINING SEXUAL ACTS AND YOU CAN GET JAILED FOR UPTO 5 YEARS.

The best part about this section is, the Exception, which allows you to send sexually explicit material used “bon fide for RELIGIOUS purposes”.

co-founder, OpIndia.com

Share and Support:
Support OpIndia by paying for content

Most read articles recently

Activist opposing Akshaya Patra’s mid-day meal contract thinks ‘Brahmins obstruct India’s development’

The Akshaya Patra has come under criticism recently for not including onion and garlic in its mid-day meals for school children.

Mumbai Police teaches a lesson in humility to ‘special’ Sonam Kapoor

Actor Dulquer Salman clarified that he and Sonam were sitting inside a car that was rigged to a truck and hence were not breaking traffic rules.

Uttar Pradesh: Eight cattle smugglers arrested in Bahraich with arms and ammunition

The smugglers even tried to trample the police personnel with their vehicle.

Rafale: SC examined the pricing details closely, ‘did not rely’ on CAG report as claimed by Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi has claimed that the Supreme Court verdict on Rafale was based only on the CAG report, while it is not true

Church of South India Archbishop Dyvasirvadam arrested in church fund scam, reports Times of India

According to the report, archbishop Dyvasirvadam was allegedly involved in misappropriation of church fund for over a decade

Double whammy for Congress in court: After Rafale verdict, Rakesh Asthana’s appointment as special director gets SC approval

The Supreme Court's verdict is being seen as the second major embarrassment for both the Congress party and Prashant Bhushan, as the Supreme Court had earlier rejected a plea on the issue of a probe concerning the Rafale deal.

Here is what connects attack on Akshaya Patra, French NGO against Rafale and demonization of Amarnath Yatra

The web of foreign-funded NGOs that demonised the Amarnath Yatra, French NGO that complained against Rafale in France and the demand to remove Akshaya Patra from midday meals contract

Congress friendly journalist wishes death upon BJP Delhi spokesperson Tajinder Bagga

During the run-up to Gujarat assembly elections last year, Trivedi was caught spreading morphed images with Amit Shah's fake quotes on Patidars

Pro-Congress troll resumes fake news website, makes outlandish claims on Rafale targeting Modi

Abhishek Mishra has been associated with the website which spreads fake news and Islamist propaganda

Amidst Rafale row, PAC led by Congress leader Mallikarjun Kharge slams HAL, questions efficiency

In 2015 Dassault had also expressed its inhibition in partnering with HAL, flagging its concern about the companies technical inadequacies

Latest articles

Connect with us

125,692FansLike
98,050FollowersFollow
6,178SubscribersSubscribe

Don't miss these