‘Shocking’: SC on cops filing cases under scrapped Section 66A of IT Act
The Supreme Court on Monday termed “amazing” and “shocking” that people are still being booked under Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which was scrapped by the apex court verdict in 2015.
A bench of Justices R F Nariman, K M Joseph and B R Gavai issued notice to Centre on an application filed by an NGO, ‘Peoples Union For Civil Liberties’ (PUCL).
“Don’t you think this is amazing and shocking? Shreya Singhal judgement is of 2015. It’s really shocking. What is going on is terrible,” the bench told senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for PUCL.
Parikh said that despite express directions of the court in 2019 that all state governments should sensitise police personnel about the March 24, 2015 judgement, thousands of cases have been registered under the section.
The bench said, “Yes, we have seen those figures. Don’t worry we will do something”. Parikh said there has to be some kind of method to handle the matter as people are suffering.
Justice Nariman told Parikh that he should read his dissent verdict in Sabarimala judgement and it is really shocking. Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, said that on perusal of IT Act it can be seen that Section 66A features in it and in the footnote one can see it written that the provision has been scrapped. “Now when a police officer has to register a case, he sees the section and registers the case without going through the footnote. Instead what can be done is that we can put a bracket just after section 66A and mention that it has been scrapped. We can in the footnote put the entire extract of the verdict,” Venugopal said. Justice Nariman said, “You please file counter in two weeks. We have issued a notice. List the matter after two weeks”. The top court was hearing a fresh application of PUCL saying, “That, shockingly, despite the order dated February 15, 2019 and steps taken towards compliance thereof, the Applicant discovered that Section 66A of the IT Act has continued to be in use not only within police stations but also in cases before trial courts across India”. The NGO said, “That in spite of the order passed by this Court on February 15, 2019, directing that copies of the judgment of this Court in Shreya Singhal should remain available with every High Court as well as all the District Courts and that the police departments in the entire country i.e. all States and UTs be sensitized about the said judgment, the facts mentioned above show that not only the investigations under Section 66A by the police are continuing but even in the trial courts”.