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Supreme Court rules Section 66A unconstitutional; says govts come and go, the law persists

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). How they ruled: Section 66A 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. Reading the judgement, Justice Nariman said that there are "three aspects of freedom of expression: discussion, advocacy and incitement. Only when discussion and advocacy reach the level of incitement, is Article 19 (2) (of the Constitution of India), which puts reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech, applicable. He also said that Section 66A makes no distinction on whether the communication has any impact on public order. The clear and present danger test and the public disorder test ought to be a prerequisite. What may be offensive to one may not be to another, what may be annoying to one may not be to another. That is what renders 66a unconstitutional and vague. "Governments come and governments go, the law persists. And the law must be judged on its own merit. 66A is invalid and it cannot be saved even if the government says it wont abuse the law," he added. The Court also struck down section 118 (D) of the Kerala Police Act on the same grounds. Section 79 written down, Section 69 remains However, the…

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Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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