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Two Air India Employees Arrested Over Facebook Post, Spent 12 Days In Jail


Two Air India employees, Mayank Mohan Sharma and KVJ Rao, were arrested by the cyber crime cell of the Mumbai police for a Facebook post, as reported by NDTV.
The incident took place in May this year.

Sharma and Rao had allegedly posted lewd jokes about politicians, made derogatory comments against the Prime Minister and insulted the national flag in their Facebook posts. An FIR was lodged against them in March which prompted a police raid at their homes past-midnight. In May, an arrest was made under the 66(A) and 67 sections of the Information Technology Act. Sharma and Rao spent 12 days in police custody and were suspended by their employer, Air India. According to the report, Rao alleged that the police acted under political pressure from NCP politician Kiran Pawaskar.

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Another report by India Today mentions that the two had some personal enmity with a leader in Air India union, following which a complaint was filed with the cyber cell.

The report comes under the limelight right after two girls, Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, from Palghar were arrested under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code for posting an update on Facebook. The girls were granted a bail after depositing a Rs 15,000 bond. Previously, Chandigarh’s Henna Bakshi and Kamalpreet Singh were booked under the IT Act for posting abusive messages on  the Union Territory traffic police’s Facebook page. Under the IT act, the charges levelled against were are non-bailable and she could be seen serving a jail time of three years. On August 15, Bakshi posted abusive comments on the Union Territory traffic police’s Facebook page after the police failed to address her complaint about the theft of her car, which was stolen on August 11.

In October, the Chennai City Police had arrested and detained two people for harassing singer Chinmayi Sripada on Twitter. While in Sripada’s case, the complaint against the guilty might deter abusive comments, other arrests are clearly misuse of the draconian IT Rules 2011.

Effects: Since the arrests were made in May and the incident is being reported in media after six months, we could only guess that the arrested victims were scared to come forward. It only raises questions: how many such arrests were made misusing the act, specifically Section 66A? Perhaps, the arrests of the two girls from Palghar, has been able to bring to light the dangers of the draconian provision of the IT Act, and we can only hope that more people who’ve been at the receiving end come forward.

As we reported, Communications and IT Minister, Kapil Sibal has also asked his ministry to get information related to cases in which Section 66A of the IT Act has been applied, and the ministry intends to decide on the changes to be brought in the Act based on the information. Besides that the minister had also informed that a meeting of  all the stakeholders has been called on 29th November to get all views and put safeguards.

Related:
- Challenges Mount Against The IT Act
- Updated: Questions That Report Of Arrests For Facebook Comment Raise About Indian Law