The Supreme Court today ruled on a series of cases challenging the IT Act, including Section 66A (3 years in prison for offensive statements online), Section 79 and its rules (forcing intermediaries to take down online content) and Section 69 (blocking of online content). The bench, consisting of Justices Chelameswar and Rohinton Fali Nariman struck down Section 66A of the IT Act, ruling against the Central government, which had defended the section.
A number of cases of citizens arrested under Section 66A for posts on Facebook and Twitter have come up over the past 2-3 years:
– May 2012: two Air India employees were arrested by the cyber crime cell of the Mumbai police for allegedly posting lewd jokes about politicians, making derogatory comments against the Prime Minister and insulting the national flag in their Facebook posts.
– September 2012: Heena Bakshi and Kamalpreet Singh had been arrested for allegedly posting abusive comments on Chandigarh traffic police’s Facebook page, while the Supreme Court of India recently upheld a Bangalore-based couple’s right to vent their frustrations on the Bangalore Police Facebook page after an officer filed an FIR against them.
– September 2012: Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi was arrested for publishing cartoons that a complainant deemed insulted the constitution of the country.
– October 2012: A 45-year-old industrialist from Pondicherry was arrested for allegedly posting “offensive” messages on Twitter targeted at then Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram’s son Karti Chidambaram. The CID’s crime branch wing complaint said that the industrialist had posted these messages thrice on Twitter in 2011-12. One of the tweets mentioned that Karti Chidambaram had amassed more wealth that Robert Vadra. *
– November 2012: There was the Palghar case , in which Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan were arrested for posting an anti-bandh update on Facebook.
– August 2014: Last year, Kerala Police arrested a college student on charges of sedition, following complaints filed against him for allegedly changing some of the words of an undisclosed patriotic song with abuses in a Facebook post.
– October 2014: In October last year, a student had been arrested by the Andhra Pradesh CID for posting that the Cyclone Huhud was good, and that it was nature’s way of punishing those who did not vote for the YSR Congress Party.
– March 2015: A standard 11 student in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh was arrested after Samajwadi Party leader Azam Khan’s media in-charge Fasahat Ali Khan filed a complaint with the police claiming that the student posted an offensive message about a particular community on Facebook and attributed it to Khan
P.S.: If we’ve missed any, let us know.
Image Credit: Flickr user Jonathan P Berger
*h/t: R P Bhat