The Indian Supreme Court has directed all state governments to implement the Indian government guidelines which requires the approval of a senior police official before arresting any person for posting defamatory content on social networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter, reports The Times Of India.

The Indian Government had issued these guidelines in November 2012, which mandated the approval from an officer of DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police) level in the rural areas and of IG (Inspector General) level in the metros before registering complaints under Section 66 (A) of the IT Act. The government had informed that this decision was taken to prevent the misuse of Sec 66A, after several incidents of the misuse of the act was reported in the country in the preceding months.

This judgement follows a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by a Delhi student, Shreya Singhal, challenging the Section 66A of the IT Act in November 2012. Singhal had filed this plea after the arrests of two girls from Palghar, Maharashtra for posting an update on Facebook and liking that status update in November 2012. In her plea, Singhal had noted that Sec 66A was vague and therefore may lead to unprovoked abuse, which will violate the right of speech and equality provided by the Constitution of India.

Following up on this, Baijayant Jay Panda, A Lok Sabha MP from Kendrapara, Odisha (BJD), had filed a Private Member’s Bill in the Lok Sabha seeking the amendment of Section 66A of the IT Act.

Prior to this, P.Rajeeve, a Rajya Sabha MP from Kerala, and a member of the Communist Part of India (Marxist) had moved a motion in the Rajya Sabha for scrapping of the Rules in the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines) Rules 2011, which made intermediaries responsible for content posted by individuals on the Internet, but the motion was defeated in the Upper house.

A private members resolution moved in the Parliament by MP P. Rajeeve, to withdraw the draconian Section 66A of the IT Act, was also withdrawn in February 2013, following assurances from the Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal that the resolution will be taken up after the Supreme Court of India rules on it.

Our Coverage on Section 66A Of the IT Act:

MouthShut Challenges IT Rules In The Supreme Court Of India
Resolution Challenging Section 66A In Parliament Withdrawn
Sec 66A: Police Books Boy For Using Girl’s Photo, Anonymous Hacks BSNL Servers
Live: Discussion In Rajya Sabha On IT Act Section 66A
Sibal Defends IT Act Section 66A In Parliament: Notes
Chennai City Police Arrests Two Over Harassment On Twitter
MPJay Panda Moves Motion In Lok Sabha Seeking Amendment Of Section 66A
Indian Govt Issues Guidelines To Prevent Misuse Of Sec 66A; PIL In Supreme Court
Breaking Down Section 66A Of The IT Act
Challenges Mount Against The IT Act
Questions That Report Of Arrests For Facebook Comment Raise About Indian Law