Congress leader P Chidambaram today welcomed the Supreme Court judgement holding Section 66A of the IT Act as unconstitutional, saying it was poorly drafted and misused. Also Read - WhatsApp Privacy Update: WhatsApp asked by SC reasons for lower standards of privacy for Indians
“I welcome the judgement of the Supreme Court holding that Section 66A of the IT Act is unconstitutional. Also Read - Vodafone Idea prepaid and postpaid plans to cost more
“The section was poorly drafted and was vulnerable. It was capable of being misused and, in fact, it was misused,” he said. Also Read - WhatsApp not authorized to go live with UPI full scale operations, RBI tells Supreme Court
The former Union Minister, who held the Home and Finance portfolios in UPA government, said there could be a case of misuse of freedom of speech and in such cases ordinary laws should apply and the offender should be dealt with under them.
“If some provisions of the law have to be strengthened, that could be considered. But Section 66A was not the answer,” Chidambaram said.
In a landmark judgement upholding freedom of expression, the Supreme Court today struck down a provision in the cyber law which provides power to arrest a person for posting allegedly “offensive” content on websites.
Terming liberty of thought and expression as “cardinal”, a bench of justices J Chelameswar and R F Nariman said, “The public’s right to know is directly affected by section 66A of the Information Technology Act.”
Justice Nariman, who pronounced the verdict in a packed court room, also said that the provision “clearly affects” the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression enshrined under the Constitution.
Elaborating on the grounds for holding the provision as “unconstitutional”, it said terms like “annoying”, “inconvenient” and “grossly offensive”, used in the provision are vague as it is difficult for the law enforcement agency and the offender to know the ingredients of the offence.