Government to reconsider Section 66 A of IT Act

While replying to the Supreme Court’s comment seeking clarity on Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, Central Government informed the apex court that Government is willing to take a re-look at Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, which empowers police to make arrests over social media messages, and to put in necessary safeguards for allaying apprehensions against its misuse.

Government gave assurance to that, it will take appropriate steps to frame necessary guidelines to curb misuse of Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000. Government also assured the guarantee of absolute freedom of speech and expression on the social media.

Central Government further submitted that the government had an open mind regarding applicability of Section 66 A and that if necessary, it could also frame guidelines to make sure the law is not abused to arrest innocent people and curtail their fundamental right and the government is willing to take all pre-emptive steps to negate the chilling effect that Section 66 A may have on an individual’s right to speech and expression. Government further promised that, even the most vociferous of the political dissent would not be attempted to be curbed by way of this legislation.

Considering the submissions made by the Central Government court advised petitioners, who have challenged the constitutional validity of Section 66 A, to give their suggestions regarding the proposed safeguards by December 25 to Additional Solicitor General (ASG). “The government will consider these suggestions on the guidelines to be framed and we can then hammer out the issues,” said the bench, while adjourning the case to 13 January, 2015.