The Supreme Court has struck down the highly controversial Section 66A of the Information & Technology (IT) Law, deeming it unconstitutional.
Section 66A has been misused by police and officials in many states against citizens in a draconian fashion for alleged offensive language against political parties, individual politicians and government institutions. The court decided that the law was unfair and went against the rights of freedom of speech and expression of individuals on the internet.
As Supreme Court of India terminated the law, veteran journalists chose twitter to share their point of view. The media fraternity had suggested there should be guidelines but not regulations on free speech on social media. ( Read it here-)
Sharing his opinion about the verdict, Senior Journalist and Consulting Editor, India Today, Rajdeep Sardesai tweeted, “The only exception to free speech must remain hate speech and incitement to violence. Defamation/slander as per common law. #Sec66A”
Talking to exchange4media, former Editor of Open Magazine and Senior Journalist, Manu Joseph said, “The framing of 66 A of the IT Act was imbecilic and we need to now focus on how such language came to be in the first place. The wording of the section was about the political class and the intelligence community trying to control the voice and noise of the people. We are lucky that the cops in our country are so servile that they inadvertently highlighted enough times how ridiculous the section was and how easily it could be abused. It is disgraceful that the Modi government chose to defend the section.”
Welcoming the verdict, Senior Journlaist, Shekhar Gupta wrote, “Welcome SC order on #66A This is one law on which BJP & Cong had unanimity. Was misused under watch of both. So good riddance, police state.”
Supporting his tweet, former Media Advisor to the Prime Minister and Senior Journalist Pankaj Pachauri said, “Good riddance to #Sec66A a law manipulated to serve political ends. The SC should be complimented. And please publicise the entire verdict.”
While Vikram Chandra, Group CEO, NDTV welcomed the verdict by tweeting, “Section 66 was too vague and too open to misuse. That's why the Supreme Court verdict will be widely welcomed.”
But Chandra also pointed out another aspect by saying, “Striking down of 66 is welcome, but we also need to prevent uncontrolled spreading of slander or inflammatory content online. How?.”
Former Hindu Editor and Senior Journalist, Siddharth Vardarajan, tweeted, “Reports sketchy but Supreme Court has declared Section 66A of IT Act unconstitutional. Excellent decision, great victory for free speech.”
He also tweeted, “SC bottomline: Online speech can't be subject to greater restriction than public, print or broadcast speech. Constitution protects all forms.”
Barkha Dutt, Anchor NDTV tweeted, “Good on you Supreme Court for doing what our politicians didn't. Striking down the draconian 66a! Now get rid of 377 too.”
Talking to exchange4media, Senior Journalist and Columnist of Hindustan Times, Madhavan Narayanan said, “It’s a clear recognition of the constitutional right to freedom of expression to show that social media enjoys the same freedom as old media and bound by same responsibilities.”
While Naryanan highlighted an important point and tweeted, “We must remember #66A verdict is not a licence for trolling or abuse. Always good to know the difference between freedom, libel and abuse.”
Dibang, Senior Journalist, ABP News highlights the importance of law. He said, “#SupremeCourt rejected Centre's plea to save #Sec66A saying it'll not be misused. SC notes governments come and go but the law remains.”
However, the Supreme Court still upheld the government’s right to block content on the internet that it finds offensive. The government had argued that Section 66 A was required to control content on the internet.