The Supreme Court decision to strike down the notorious Section 66A of the Information Technology Act is as much a slap in the face of the Congress, which introduced the provision, as in the face of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which shamelessly tried to retain it.
The Supreme Court announced that the 2009 Amendment to the Act or Section 66A was unconstitutional and a restriction on freedom of speech. “Section 66A is unconstitutional and we have no hesitation in striking it down,” said Justice R.F. Nariman, reading out the judgment. “The public’s right to know is directly affected by Section 66A.”
As per Section 66A, sending information of “grossly offensive or menacing character” was punishable by up to three years in prison. The Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and Nariman pointed out that the offences laid down under Section 66A did not lay down clearly defined lines. This, the apex court said, has resulted in the misuse of the provision. It also refused to accept the government assurance that misuse would be curtailed.
BJP leaders should hang their heads in shame (that is, if they have any) because their government justified the draconian measure that was introduced by the Sonia Gandhi regime, the most corrupt government India has seen in last two centuries. Defending Section 66A, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta had said in the Supreme Court on February 5, “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.” BJP grandees failed to see that what Sonia and her minions had introduced in the statute book was not medicine but poison.
Like crooked cowards, BJP leaders tried to hide behind the excuses of law and order, internal security, and national defence—which is infuriating given its groveling attitude towards the jihadists, the PDP, and Hurriyat traitors. There are many instances of government pusillanimity. The government has not taken any action against the Bareilly-based All India Faizan-e-Madina Council which recently announced a bounty of Rs 100,786 on the head of Muslim cleric and leader of the Jamiat Ulema Hind, Mufti Mohammad Ilyas Qasmi. Qasmi had recently called Lord Shiva as the “first messenger of Islam”; he had also asserted that Indian Muslims are followers of the Sanathan Dharma.
Besides, anytime a Hurriyat boss opens his mouth, he not only grossly offends every citizen of the country but also traduces the Indian Constitution and endangers national security. Often he defames our soldiers. In January, as the nation saluted the two security men who laid down their lives in an encounter, Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Geelani called the two Hizbul Mujahideen militants, who were killed in the encounter, as “martyrs.” Other separatists also lauded the killed militants as heroes. This was like applying salt to the injury, for the people were moved by the sight of the young daughter of Colonel M.N. Rai lighting the pyre.
“The sacred blood will never go in vain. India has to accept the ground realities. The violent path adopted by Kashmiri youths is not any act of hobby nor is it the result of unemployment. They are the students of different colleges and universities who are fully aware about the historical perspective and the tragedy of Kashmir,” Geelani said. What did the Central government do? Did they arrest Geelani for his remarks? It just made some noises and kept working on the alliance with the pro-Pakistan PDP.
Yet, a few days ago, Minister of Communications & IT Ravi Shankar Prasad justified Section 66A by saying “in the cases of terrorism, extremism, [and] rabid communal violence, appropriate safety measures must be taken.” The BJP’s definition of “safety measures” is throwing school kids in jail, while ignoring the felony of traitors and trouble-makers.
It would have been an honorable act for the Modi government to have repealed Section 66A; interestingly, before general elections it had said found the provision obnoxious. Soon after it assumed office, I wrote an article ‘Modi should scrap 66A’ (http://indiaright.org/archive.php?archive_id=894). Had the government repealed the section on its own, it would have won the admiration of all right-thinking people. Now, having supported the law of its predecessor, the Modi regime has earned only condemnation. To no avail, for the obnoxious provision goes anyway.