Quashing of Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act 2000 by the Supreme Court is a positive development and augurs well for the country, a top official of the IT industry body Nasscom said on Tuesday.
“The Supreme Court verdict is a positive development and a right step as it (order) aligns with the provisions of the IT Act,” National Association of Software and Services Companies (Nasscom) president R. Chandrashekhar told IANS from New Delhi. Earlier in the day, the apex court struck down the relevant section as it violated Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and expression to the citizens.
Welcoming the historic judgment, Chandrashekhar said the apex court had also ruled that section 79(3) of the IT Act could be invoked only by a court order and not by an executive order. “The apex court’s observation on section 79 (3) makes its application subject to a court order and not an executive order, as has been the case so far. The new interpretation will make the administration (executive) liable for action if the section is invoked without a legal sanction,” Chandrashekhar pointed out.
Noting that the IT Act of 2000 was enacted for proper use of information technology (IT) and in conformity with the country’s laws, the former telecom secretary said disruptive technologies cannot take away the people’s fundamental rights in a democratic country like India. “The judgment augurs well for the country and its democracy. Caution, however, has to be exercised in the correct use of technology and not as a means to offend or hurt anyone,” Chandrashekhar added. Section 66A reads: “Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”
The apex court order came on a batch of petitions challenging the constitutional validity of 66A of the IT Act on the grounds of it being vague and ambiguous and was being misused by the law enforcing authorities.