Immediately withdraw cases registered under repealed Section 66A of IT Act: MHA to States, UTs

The Supreme Court found it “distressing”, “shocking” and terrible” that the provision was still being used to book people

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday asked the States and Union Territories to immediately withdraw the cases registered under the repealed-Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, days after the Supreme Court expressed shock that it was being invoked even six years after the apex court had struck it down.

The Supreme Court found it “distressing”, “shocking” and terrible” that the provision — held unconstitutional and a violation of free speech in the Shreya Singhal judgment authored by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman on March 24, 2015 — was still being used to book people.

Through an advisory, the MHA asked the authorities in the States and Union Territories to direct all police stations not to register cases under the repealed provision and sensitise the law enforcement agencies for the compliance of the order issued by the Supreme Court.

“If any case has been booked in your State under Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000, it should immediately be withdrawn,” said the advisory.

All you need to know about Section 66A of the IT Act

In view of the Supreme Court judgment, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, through a letter in January 2019, and the MHA, via two letters in January and April 2019, had asked the States and Union Territories to sensitise the police department and local police authorities for strict compliance of the Court directive. The ministries had also said that all such cases, if any, should be withdrawn.

“It has been brought to our notice through an application in the Supreme Court that FIRs are still being lodged by some police authorities under the struck down provision…Supreme Court has taken a very serious view in the matter,” said the latest advisory.

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