Common Cause, A Petitioner in Section 66A case, Welcomes Supreme Court Judgment
Common Cause, a registered society which takes up public causes on behalf of the citizens of India, has welcomed the momentous Supreme Court judgment striking down Section 66A as unconstitutional. Apetitioner in this case, Common Cause, had filed its writ petition challenging the Constitutional validity of Sections 66A, 69A and 80 of the Information Technology Act 2000 (as amended in 2008) in January 2013.
Common Cause believes that the Supreme Court bench of Justices Chelameswar and R.F. Nariman,which upheld the freedom of expression striking down Section 66A, has delivered a landmark judgment with far reaching consequences and a direct bearing on the citizens’ right to free speech enshrined in the Constitution. It is very significant that the bench has differentiated between discussion, advocacy and incitement, which is like an endorsement of the value of dissent and deliberation in democracy.
The Common Cause is among many civil society organisations which have been up in arms against Section 66 A because it gives the police powers to arrest anyone under the pretext of policing ‘objectionable’ content online. The provision of three year jail term also makes it easy for the police to harass citizens for most innocuous acts such asdisagreeing with politicians, questioning those in authority or making fun of them or for even “liking” someone else’s post perceived as “objectionable.” The Court rightly found the language of the Section nebulous and unclear without proper definition of what is “offensive.”
Common Cause is a supporter of freedom of speech, and other democratic rights and opposes unilateral government action such as blacking out dissent, blocking of websites without giving any reasons or notice to citizens or, for that matter, the right of the police to enter or search any place without warrant.
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