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UP Police Disregarding Supreme Court's Shreya Singhal Verdict By Registering FIRs Under Section 66A IT Act

Ashok Kini
26 Nov 2020 7:16 AM GMT
UP Police Disregarding Supreme Courts Shreya Singhal Verdict By Registering FIRs Under Section 66A IT Act
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The Uttar Pradesh Police seems to be still ignorant of the 2015 Shreya Singhal judgment by the Supreme Court which quashed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act as unconstitutional, despite repeated reminders by the Allahabad High Court.Last week, the Allahabad High Court, quashed yet another such FIR (registered last year) under Section 66A against a person. The bench comprising...

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The Uttar Pradesh Police seems to be still ignorant of the 2015 Shreya Singhal judgment by the Supreme Court which quashed Section 66A of the Information Technology Act as unconstitutional, despite repeated reminders by the Allahabad High Court.

Last week, the Allahabad High Court, quashed yet another such FIR (registered last year) under Section 66A against a person. The bench comprising Justices Ramesh Sinha and Samit Gopal observed that the court is encountering  many such challenges against First Information Reports lodged under Section 66A. 

"The authorities concerned in spite of the clear mandate of the Hon'ble Apex Court in the Case of Shreya Singhal (Supra) declaring the same as ultra-vires and later on in the case of Peoples' Union for Civil Liberties (Supra) having reminded the said situation through a specific order have become inresponsive and insensitive to the issue. Time and again reminders have been issued by this Court for effective and actual enforcement of it and of the fact that Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 has been declared ultra-vires and also in spite of the fact that the said judgment declaring it to be so, has been ordered to be circulated amongst the officers concerned, there appears to be no regards for the same and the situation remains as earlier as is the said section is well in force. The present situation prompts us to take up the issue again. In this writ petition also, we find that the FIR has been registered for the said offence and the State has not taken corrective measures in pursuance of the order of the Hon'ble Apex Court to direct its officials/officers not to register First Information Reports for the said offence as the same has been declared ultra-vires.", the bench said in the order.

Recently, in another case, a division bench headed by Justice Ramesh Sinha had directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mathura to file his personal affidavit explaining as to how the F.I.R. has been registered under section 66A. The case was later closed as infructuous after the police officer reported that the offence under Section 66A was deleted.

In July, Live Law had reported about two orders of the Allahabad High Court refusing to quash the FIR under Section 66A. In one case, a Journalist Shiv Kumar (Amar Ujala), had approached the High Court seeking to quash the FIR registered against him under section 188 and 505 of Indian Penal Code read with section 3 of Epidemic Act and Section 66A of Information Technology Act. Disposing of his petition, the Court found that 'it is apparent that cognizable offence is there for which investigation is in process, hence no ground for indulgence is made out.' In the other case, the court had refused to quash the F.I.R. registered against a person named Rohit Singhal under Section 66A Information Technology Act even though the counsel cited the Supreme Court judgment in Shreya Singhal.

Shreya Singhal Judgment

The Supreme Court had struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, for being violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved under Article 19(2). Section 66A was introduced in the Information Technology Act by virtue of an Amendment Act of 2009. The said provision penalised any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device,— (a) any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character; or (b) any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will, persistently by making use of such computer resource or a communication device; or (c) any electronic mail or electronic mail message for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages. The offence was made punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.

SC's Reminder in 2019

In January 2019, the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), approached the Apex Court highlighting the continued use of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. Agreeing with the suggestion mooted by the Attorney General of India, the Supreme Court disposed of this application by directing all High Courts to make available the copies of the Supreme Court judgment in 'Shreya Singhal v. Union of India' to all the District Courts with eight weeks. The court had also directed the Chief Secretaries of all states to sensitise the police departments in this country by sending copies of this judgment to the Director General of Police in each State.





 

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