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Patrika journalist Prabhat Singh has been arrested under Section 297 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act (circulating obscene material) and will be in judicial remand till March 30, reports Scroll. Three other cases of forgery and cheating have also been lodged against Singh.

The report states that the complaint was registered by Santosh Tiwari, a former ETV reporter, for allegedly making confrontational comments against some members of Samajik Ekta Manch on WhatsApp. Scroll points out that Samajik Ekta Manch had protested outside the house of a Scroll journalist last month.

Earlier this month, Singh had apparently sent a written complaint to the Dantewada Police against the members of Samajik Ekta Manch stating that some of them had called him an anti-national on a WhatsApp group chat, leading to his defamation. Tiwari had also filed a complaint against Singh at that time, relating to the same WhatsApp chat.

Journalist Rahul Pandita tweeted a screenshot of the WhatsApp chat. MediaNama is not in a position to independently verify the authenticity or relevance of that screenshot to the current issue.

Morphed image on WhatsApp lead to arrest: Last week, two youths Shakir Yunus Banthia and Vasim Shaikh were arrested in Khargone, Madhya Pradesh for sharing a morphed image of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief Mohan Bhagwat on WhatsApp and Facebook. They were booked under sections 67 of the Information Technology Act and 505(2) of the Indian Penal Code, under accusation from Rajnish Nimbalkar citing that the image had hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

WhatsApp admin arrested: Six months ago, an administrator of a WhatsApp group along with three others had been arrested in Latur district in Maharashtra over objectionable content of videos of cow slaughtering and criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Section 66A struck down: Exactly a year ago, the Supreme Court ruled on a series of cases challenging the IT Act striking down Section 66A for being unconstitutional, upholding Section 69 in its entirety, which allows the government to block websites, and also upholding Section 79 and its rules, saying that it needs to be read down, and a court order or a government order needs to be taken.

Related reads:

Dear Thane cops, didn’t you hear Section 66A is dead?
Arrests over “objectionable content” on Facebook back despite Sec 66A being scrapped
Section 66A may be back again, with a different name and packaging

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Section 67 of the IT Act:

67 Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form (Amended vide ITAA 2008)

​Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published in the electronic form, any material which is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two three years and with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees and in the event of a second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

​67 A

Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act,etc. in electronic form (Inserted vide ITAA 2008)

​Whoever publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted in the electronic form any material which contains sexually explicit act or conduct shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees.

​Exception: This section and section 67 does not extend to any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure in electronic form-

(i) the publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure is in the interest of science,literature,art,or learning or other objects of general concern; or

(ii) which is kept or used bona fide for religious purposes.

​67 B Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form.

Whoever,-

(a) publishes or transmits or causes to be published or transmitted material in any electronic form which depicts children engaged in sexually explicit act or conduct or

(b) creates text or digital images, collects, seeks, browses, downloads, advertises, promotes, exchanges or distributes material in any electronic form depicting children in obscene or indecent or sexually explicit manner or

(c) cultivates, entices or induces children to online relationship with one or more children for and on sexually explicit act or in a manner that may offend a reasonable adult on the computer resource or

(d) facilitates abusing children online or

(e) records in any electronic form own abuse or that of others pertaining to sexually explicit act with children, shall be punished on first conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to five years and with a fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees and in the event of second or subsequent conviction with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years and also with fine which may extend to ten lakh rupees:

Provided that the provisions of section 67, section 67A and this section does not extend to any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure in electronic form-

(i) The publication of which is proved to be justified as being for the public good on the ground that such book, pamphlet, paper writing, drawing, painting, representation or figure is in the interest of science, literature, art or learning or other objects of general concern; or

(ii) which is kept or used for bonafide heritage or religious purposes

​Explanation: For the purposes of this section, “children” means a person who has not completed the age of 18 years.

​67 C Preservation and Retention of information by intermediaries

(1) Intermediary shall preserve and retain such information as may be specified for such duration and in such manner and format as the Central Government may prescribe.

(2) Any intermediary who intentionally or knowingly contravenes the provisions of sub section (1) shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine.