Section 66A of Information Technology Act – Unconstitutional
The Judgment of Shreya Singhal – Striking of Section 66A of Information and Technology Act
In the judgment of Shreya Singhal, the bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman has struck down Section 66A of Information and Technology Act, 2000 as it tramples upon the Part III of Constitution dealing with the Fundamental Rights. Basically Section 66A focuses on sending offensive messages. However this section was strike down by the Supreme Court as it invades Freedom of Speech and expression guaranteed under Part 3 of Constitution. It was verdict of the Court that “The information disseminated over the Internet need not be information which ‘incites’ anybody at all.Written words may be sent that may be purely in the realm of ‘discussion’ or‘advocacy’ of a ‘particular point of view’. Further, the mere causing of annoyance, inconvenience, danger, etc., or being grossly offensive or having a menacing character are not offenses under the [Indian] Penal Code at all,”
Therefore, judgment given in this case is important in the Supreme Court’s history as it has widened the scope of freedom of speech and expression. Section 66A of IT Act was contemptuous to Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution and hence in this judgment Justice Nariman has highlighted that the liberty of thought and expression is not merely an inspirational ideal. It is also “a cardinal value that is of paramount significance under our constitutional scheme.” The challenge was to identify where to draw line. Traditionally, it has been drawn at incitement, a term which has become abundantly understood through repeated legal usage, while terms like obstruction and insult remain subjective. Moreover,the ruling of this judgment also cleared the ambit of Section 69A and Section79 of IT Act, 2000.