AG Venugopal offers lame excuse on Sectoin 66A

Attorney General should be persuading the government to ensure that the invalidated Section 66A law is not abused

Rajesh Dikshit |

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal (Photo courtesy: Wikimedia)

The excuses offered by the powers that be would be laughable were the consequences not so deplorable. The recent one comes from no less a personage than Attorney General K.K. Venugopal.

The Supreme Court today expressed its shock over the continuous use of the erstwhile Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. “A bench of Justices R.F. Nariman, K.M. Joseph, and B.R. Gavai issued notice to Centre on an application filed by NGO, ‘Peoples Union For Civil Liberties’ (PUCL),” PTI reported.

“Don’t you think this is amazing and shocking? Shreya Singhal judgment [which struck off the section] is of 2015. It’s really shocking. What is going on is terrible,” the bench told senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, appearing for PUCL.

The reply of the Honorable Attorney General was, to put it mildly, amusing: “Now when a police officer has to register a case, he sees the section and registers the case without going through the footnote. Instead what can be done is that we can put a bracket just after Section 66A and mention that it has been scrapped. We can in the footnote put the entire extract of the verdict.”

The culprit, he seems to be suggesting, is the way the Information Technology Act is printed! Venugopal has given a new meaning to the term ‘printer’s devil.’

His statement is a testimony to the competence (or lack of it) of our police officers. Are all of them ignoramuses? Don’t they read newspapers? Aren’t they aware of the major happenings, including those pertaining to law and enforcement?

The Shreya Singhal verdict was a big one. Are cops unaware of this? It was not some archaic legal provision that was struck off by the apex court six years ago. Section 66A was a widely used and abused provision even when it was on the statute book. The fact that thousands of cases have been registered since 2015 suggests that that their ignorance is of monumental magnitude or their disregard for the top court is.

Instead of making lame excuses in the Supreme Court, the Attorney General should be persuading the government to ensure that the invalidated law is not used to terrorize citizens.

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