The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post
D.Kalyani, MBA 2014-16, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur
The Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 deals with “Sending offensive message through electronic means” reads, “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; (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 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 shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”
The act has been the subject of intense debate over the last few years, especially after social media sites began proliferating in India. Several PILs have been filed challenging the constitutionality of Section 66A of the IT Act. Supreme Court has decided to scrap Section 66A as it clearly affects the right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under the Constitution.
After this judgment, there is a mixed reaction from different parts of the country. Some people think this verdict will allow messages that can degrade a person’s reputation. Another school of thought is that this will put an end to the vague and arbitrary rule which attacks the right to free speech. There are some other provisions in IT Act and IPC which deal with unlawful content.