New Delhi, March 24: The Supreme Court is likely to deliver a verdict on the validity of Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act 2000. Under the section, the police is empowered to arrest those who post objectionable content online and it provides for a three-year jail term.
It was challenged by a law student, non-government organisations and controversial Bangladeshi author Taslima Nasrin. It was said that the law interferes with free speech and appealed to quash it.
The Centre, however, defended the provision saying it could not be declared unconstitutional on grounds of the possibility of its potential abuse. It also said that remarks made on social media on political debate or protests expressing an opposite view could not be punished under the section.
The lawyers of the petitioners counter-argued that the definition of the Section 66A is vague and it could lead to abuse of the provision. They said that those making genuine comments could be harassed under the provision.
The petition was filed in the wake of the arrest of two teenagers in Mumbai's Palghar who had objected to a statewide strike called by the Shiv Sena following the death of party patriarch Bal Thackeray in November 2012. They were let off only after the arrests led to nationwide protests.
It was also alleged that the police were misusing the laws under political pressure.
In West Bengal also a university professor faced the consequences after he had posted a caricature on Mamata Banerjee and her party leaders in early 2012.