Continued use of Section 66A: SC directs copies of Shreya Singhal judgment to be made available to DGPs, District Courts
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Continued use of Section 66A: SC directs copies of Shreya Singhal judgment to be made available to DGPs, District Courts

Murali Krishnan

The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Central government that copies of the judgment in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India [(2015) 5 SCC 1] striking down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 be made available to the Chief Secretaries of all the State Governments and the Union Territories.

The Chief Secretaries will, in turn, sensitise the police departments by sending copies of this judgment to the Director General of Police in each State, a Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Sanjay Kishan Kaul directed.

Further, a direction has also been given to all High Courts to make the judgment copy available to all District Courts in the country.

The Court was hearing a plea by NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) highlighting continued use of the scrapped Section 66A.

PUCL had stated in its plea that despite the clear and unequivocal holding of the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal, Section 66A of the IT Act continued to be applied in the legal system.

A recent working paper by the Internet Freedom Foundation demonstrated that pending prosecutions under Section 66A of the IT Act had not been terminated, and further that it continued to be invoked by police across India in First Information Reports registered after the judgment in Shreya Singhal.

Taking note of the contentions advanced by PUCL, the Supreme Court had issued notice to the Central government on January 7 and sought its response.

When the matter came up for hearing on Friday last week, Attorney General KK Venugopal suggested that a direction be given that copies of the Shreya Singhal judgment be made available by every High Court in the country to all the District Courts.

The Court accepted the same.

“The learned Attorney General appears before us and has made a concrete suggestion, which we accept. The suggestion is that copies of this Court’s judgment in ‘Shreya Singhal v. Union of India’ [(2015) 5 SCC 1] will be made available by every High Court in this country to all the District Courts. This should be done within a period of eight weeks from today.”

However, the Court did not stop there. It proceeded to issue a further direction of its own – that Central government has to make available copies of the Shreya Singhal judgment to the Chief Secretaries of all the State Governments and the Union Territories. The Chief Secretaries will, in turn, have to sensitise the police departments by sending copies of the judgment to the Director General of Police in each State.

“Also, we direct the Union Government to make available copies of this judgment to the Chief Secretaries of all the State Governments and the Union Territories. This should be done within a period of eights weeks from today. The Chief Secretaries will, in turn, sensitise the police departments in this country by sending copies of this judgment to the Director General of Police in each State, within a period of eights weeks thereafter.”

Read the order below.

Section-66A-order.pdf
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