Indian National Congress respects the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court with regard to setting aside Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 aimed at preventing authoritarian misuse by authorities to kill dissent in online space.
On section 66A of the IT Act 2000.
“1.Indian National Congress respects the decision of Hon’ble Supreme Court with regard to setting aside Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 aimed at preventing authoritarian misuse by authorities to kill dissent in online space.
2.Congress has always been the champion and torch bearer of freedom of expression, democratic dissent and right to criticize. Congress Party has an innate belief in proliferation of ideas and thoughts by individuals and organizations as a principal pre-requisite of our democratic tradition. We, however, are deeply conscious of the fact that one person’s individual liberty of expression cannot unilaterally infringe upon another person’s liberty. This reasonable restriction is recognized even in Article 19(2) of Constitution of India.
3.Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 was enacted to prevent online abuse and hounding of groups and individuals, check propagation of obscene/incorrigibly false information with the intent to create social divide and unrest and deter unbridled defamation in cyberspace. This Act came into effect in 2008 when social media was yet evolving.
4.Congress Party had weaved in various safeguards in Section 66A including putting a conditionality of making of arrest only after examination and seeking permission from IG/SP level officer. Supreme Court, it appears, had not found the safeguards sufficient.
5.We believe that onus lies on the Government to re-examine the issue threadbare and strike an appropriate balance by upholding freedom of expression, democratic dissent and right to criticize on one hand and prevent abuse/hounding of groups/individuals through obscene/incorrigibly false information and deter unbridled defamation in cyberspace.
6.We sincerely hope that Government will be guided by the sole consideration of upholding individual’s liberty of expression with reasonable restriction as contained in Article 19(2) and not be guided by the ever shifting stand of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) on the issue as BJP and Shri Arun Jaitley termed the law as ‘online emergency’ while in opposition and justified the same law when in power through an affidavit in Supreme Court by stating that Section 66A was necessary to “regulate the use of cyberspace.”