New Delhi, Jan. Jan 7 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday took strong exception to and expressed shock over the people being arrested and prosecuted under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act — which was junked as unconstitutional by the top court way back in 2015 — as it sought Centre’s response on a PIL by the NGO PUCL.
Describing as “shocking” that people were being prosecuted under a provision that was invalidated by the top court, the bench of Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and Justice Vineet Narain said: “We are going to take a strict action against the officials and arrest them.”
Seeking response from the Centre in four weeks, the court gave a week’s time to NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) to file its rejoinder to the Centre’s response.
The Supreme Court had on March 24, 2015, quashed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, holding that it was violative of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution guaranteeing freedom of speech and expression.
The court had said that “it is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such rights.”
“The Preamble of the Constitution of India inter alia speaks of liberty of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship. It also says that India is a sovereign democratic republic. It cannot be over-emphasized that when it comes to democracy, liberty of thought and expression is a cardinal value that is of paramount significance under our constitutional scheme,” Justice Nariman had said pronouncing the judgment.