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Despite government’s assurance to ensure strict guidelines to prevent the misemployment of Section 66 (A) which allows arrests for objectionable and offensive content online, the Supreme Court has scrapped the Section 66 (A).

Stating that the assurance from one government might not necessarily ensure the same with the change in government as governments may come and go but Section 66 (A) continues.

However, Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar though has embraced the verdict but also added that his government would come up with amendments after comprehensive dialogue and discussion. .

The minister said, “Those in power must be liberal. We respect the freedom of speech and expression. We respect communication of ideas on social media and we are not in favor of curtailing communication of honest dissent.” But he was quick to give gravity to safeguards as well.

Mr. Prasad referred to the need of a security establishment and a structured response with due safeguards for terrorism, national security, extremism and others for supporting his stance of the requirement of extensive discourse on it. For social media, he advocated self-regulation by the ones who post and those who allow the platforms to post.

Section 66 (A) had been introduced by UPA government and had justified its need with consideration to the necessity of battling with abuse and defamation on net. However, Section 66 (A) was stated ‘vague’ by a group of petitioners who had challenged it and said that it resulted in its overt misuse by Police.

But it was supported by BJP government which said that the potential abuse of a law cannot by a reason to declare it unconstitutional. “If the medicine is bitter then we can have sugar after it instead of throwing the medicine. People have to take the medicine as it is for their benefit,” Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta had argued then.

 

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