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SECTION 66A OF THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT

SECTION 66A OF THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT

Context:

The Centre has said that the Ministries of Information and Technology and the Department of Home Affairs had done their best to disseminate information on the Supreme Court decision in Shreya Singhal's Section 66A case. Apart from this, most cases are registered under this section.

Centre’s Observations:

  • Since the police and civil society were "State subjects" under the Constitution, the responsibility rests with the 2015 Supreme Court decision to repeal the '‘draconian' section 66A of the Information and Technology Act.
  • Law enforcement agencies share an equal responsibility to comply with a high court decision. They take action against those who have committed cybercrimes legally.

Section 66A:

  • Section 66A prescribes the penalty for sending “offensive” messages via a computer or other communication devices such as a cell phone or tablet.
  • A convicted felon can receive up to three years in prison and a fine.
  • It empowers the police to arrest what those officers, of their own free will, may appear to be “offensive” or “threatening” or with intent to cause resentment, disruption, etc.

Background:

  • On July 5, the Supreme Court expressed shock and dismay at the police's continued registration of cases under section 66A despite being eliminated six years ago.
  • As of March 2021, 745 cases are pending and pending before regional courts in 11 states, where alleged perpetrators are being prosecuted under Section 66A of the IT Act.

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