The Karnataka High Court has directed two police officers to pay a cost of RS 10,000 each for registering a First Information Report (FIR) under section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act, which has been struck down by the Supreme Court.
Justice P S Dinesh Kumar, directed Assistant Sub Inspector, M Somanna and Police Inspector, Ravi Patil, to pay the cost with the Registrar General of High Court, within four weeks. The court said "This is a case in which police have initiated criminal proceedings invoking provisions of law which is not in statute book. Police have initially recorded the complaint as NCR and for reasons best known the very same officer has registered FIR after one week. This is nothing but a clear abuse of process of law and harassment to the citizen."
Sharada D R had approached the court seeking to quash the FIR and the proceedings registered at the Srirampura police station on April 25, 2019. Advocate M Aruna Shyam appearing for the petitioner had argued that police have taken up investigation for the offence which has been struck down by the Supreme Court.
Taking note of the seriousness of the submissions, the bench comprising Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran asserted that the concerned officials will be arrested if its order scrapping the provision has been violated.
Section 66A had been dubbed as "draconian" for it allowed the arrest of several innocent persons, igniting a public outcry for its scrapping.
This had led to the Supreme Court striking it down as unconstitutional in March, 2015 in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India. The court had ruled that the provision violated freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and that it did not fall under the reasonable restrictions enunciated under Article 19 (2).