Section 66A of IT Act should have never been drafted
Section 66A of IT Act should have never been drafted
It was indeed a landmark judgement by the Supreme Court when it scrapped the 'draconian' section 66A of IT Act. Just when it was framed by the UPA government, they should have considered the pros and cons of drafting such harsh and needless act and that could have saved us so many controversial arrests and protests that followed the act. After the act was passed, it was obediently followed for years, innocents arrested for talking their hearts in social media and finally when it was thoroughly considered, the SC felt it was unconstitutional and needs to be scrapped. The error has been rectified but the lives of people that got affected due to a mistaken act passed by the government cannot be undone. Should the government had acted sensible to review the act before passing, the scenario could have been different.
1. Section 66A of the IT Act was drafted with the purpose of preventing offensive posts that led to communal clashes and in some cases crimes like murder and suicide. It was also meant to protect the dignity of those depressed with scandalous pictures and private moments captured and posted without the knowledge of the person in the content. It wasn't assumed that it would also take under its influence freedom of speech and posts found inappropriate to influential people would with such harsh consequences.
2. It was a vulnerable act that needed more detailing upon which posts would be considered offensive and punishable and which would not. Misuse of freedom of speech can be many and this act was only meant to curtain those consequence but the vulnerability of the act made it judiciary to contain all other cases under its grip.
3. The two other provisions of the IT Act that provide for blocking of sites are still valid for the simple reason that they particularly clarify what kind of content needs blocking. The same cannot be said about the section 66A that incorporates a wide range of characteristics for those posts that can get the sender in trouble - offensive, menacing, annoying, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, and misleading. Most of these terms are vague and most likely to be misunderstood.
4. Now that people have realized that being offended of something or the other is quite human and happens most of the time especially in a country with the biggest diversity, it was needed that the act be scrapped. Someone or the other will be offended and that does not mean that the person in question should be punished for speaking, or posting in this case, their views.
5. While this act was meant to protect people from cyber crime of a particular type, it turned out that it was only the bureaucrats that enjoyed the consequences. Cartoonists were put into trial under this act and the heights of it was when the class 12 student was arrested for her post on UP minister Azam Khan.
A major mistake that should never have been:
1. It took five years for our judiciary system to understand that the act was unconstitutional and draconian. In 2012 the Palghar girls went through immense treachery for their post after Bal Thackeray's death. Nothing in their post was offended or insulting to the late Shiv Sena leader yet the police overreacted by arresting them on grounds of section 66A.
2. In the name of protecting the internet from defaming and spreading hatred, this act became overreaching and curtailing the freedom of speech and expression, especially in the favour of government bureaucrats. This was a clear mistake that should have been realized long back and repealed.
3. Ambikesh Mahapatra faced charges for cartoons of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. Similar charges were filed against Aseem Trivedi in Mumbai for mocking the Parliament. How could the Indian government console with the Charlie Hebdo attack when an act like section 66A was in existence with the consent of the government? Hypocrisy at its worst would be an understatement. UPA was the founder of this act while BJP supported blindly.
4. Soon authors like Taslima Nasreen also started being probed under this act. Common people also took to misusing the law with false charges and misinterpreted comments. The sigh of relief from many on Twitter is a proof that people were not the least bit happy with the existence of a law that curtailed freedom of speech and expression in any way.
5. Cyber laws are already there to cover what section 66A tried to control. There was no obvious need for this to be included in the banning of websites cases.
The judgement by SC to scrap 66A is one of the best. Finally, people have the freedom to actually criticize on social media without the fear of being put to trial by some bureaucrat. Laws are meant to protect people from crime but this law was all about arresting innocents for any sort of derogatory comment. This case should also be an eye opener for the law makers to be careful of what they create for the consequences depends largely upon such acts being put to effect without considering the aftermath.
- RE: Section 66A of IT Act should have never been drafted -Deepa Kaushik (03/28/15)
- We cannot pass such a judgement as a single go that the section 66a of the IT Act should not have been framed. The act was framed after some of the offenses that created a rational fear of tensions across the country. The section 66a was made to avoid the offensive comments on the social media, which is not an incorrect note.
There should definitely be some restrictions on the e3xpression of the words especially when that reflects on the social media in this high technical era. There cannot be a filter for the contents being published on the social media, so a trap in the form of rule and regulation is must to create a restriction on the posts. With this view-point, it would be incorrect to say that the section should not have been formed.
At the same time, we cannot deny the fact that the section wasn’t drafter in perfection. And this loophole cost immensely to the lives of some innocent people who had to go through series of troubles due to the incomplete establishment of the section. The section should have been re-framed along with the clause wherever required, to secure the interest of the innocent people and only trap the offenders and criminals who make use of the loopholes for the cyber crimes and similar offense.
Thus, the section 66a should have been re-drafted with perfection, keeping the interest of innocent people in mind and security their liberty for expression of views. But, the removal of the section could prove fatal otherwise.