Supreme Court of India.

SC issues notice to states, UTs on continuous invocation of unconstitutional Sec 66A, IT Act

THE Supreme Court Monday issued notice to state governments and Union Territories (UTs) against the continuous invocation of Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 which was declared unconstitutional in 2015. It also issued notice to the Registrar Generals of all the high courts.

A two-judge bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and BR Gavai passed the order after the Central Government submitted that Section 66A of the IT Act had been declared unconstitutional and it was up to the states to refrain from filing cases under this section.

The Centre also said it had been sending advisories to states and UTs to refrain from filing FIRs against the unconstitutional Section 66A IT Act. An advisory was issued as recently as July 14.

On July 5, a Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman-bench while hearing a plea filed by the PUCL, said it was “terrible” and “shocking” that despite striking down Section 66A of the IT Act, FIRs continue to be registered under Section 66A of the IT Act.

The PUCL, in its plea, had sought a direction to the Centre to advise all police stations against registering FIRs under this section. The NGO had also sought publicity in all leading newspapers informing the general public that Section 66A had been struck down and was no longer the law.

The top court on March 24, 2015, had struck down Section 66A of the IT Act as being violative of the freedom of speech and expression. It held that Section 66A created an offence that was vague and overbroad.

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