Landmark judgement which repealed sec 66A of IT ACT,2000
Bench:- J. Chelameswar, Rohinton Fali Nariman
Facts of the Case:
In the year 2012, two girls named as Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan, was arrested by the Mumbai police. The arrest was made for expressing their displeasure at a bandh which was called in by the members of Shiv Sena people in Maharashtra for the incident of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackery’s death. The accusation made against the petitioners was that they were involved in posting their comments on the Facebook and liking the comment at the same time which resulted in widespread public protest. The petitioners by the way of Public Interest, filed the writ petition under Article-32 of the Constitution claiming that section 66A of IT Act 2000 violates the right of freedom of speech and expression of an individual.
1) Whether Sections 66-A, 69-A and 79 of the IT Act are constitutionally valid?
2) Whether Section 66A of IT Act is violative of fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression?
The court said: “Every expression used is nebulous in meaning. What may be offensive to one may not be offensive to another”. Therefore, the interpretation was held to be subjective in nature. Hence the court ordered that 66A is completely open-ended and undefined and it is violative of right to freedom of speech and expression and is not covered under the grounds of reasonable restrictions given under Article 19(2). Section 66A actually had no proximate connection or link with causing disturbance to public order or with incitement to commit an offence and hence it was struck down by the court. The approach adopted by the court was to protect the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression and in no way the legislation can take away this right by claiming the shield under Article-19(2) of the Constitution. The court also held that blocking of information for public access given under Section 69A of IT Act is constitutionally valid in nature.