Alarmed by increasing arrests under a cyber law provision struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015, Independent Rajya Sabha member Rajeev Chandrasekhar sought the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention in checking its misuse.
“I seek your intervention to prevent arrests and prosecutions under section 66A of the IT Act, 2000, which the apex court had termed unconstitutional,” he said in a letter to the Prime Minister.
Referring to the National Crime Records Bureau report, which reveals thousands of arrests by police and courts in states across the country under the draconian section, Chandrasekhar said under the pretext of securing internet and preventing its abuse, the officials were overreaching and trespassing on the right to free speech.
“I urge you to direct the home ministry and law ministry to cancel cases registered under Section 66A and inform police and courts in all states about the apex court verdict in March 2015,” Chandrasekhar’s letter reiterated.
In a landmark judgement on March 24, 2015, a division bench of the top court, headed by Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice Chelameswar struck down Section 66A for being violative of the Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution but held Section 69A and the IT Rules 2009 for blocking access of information by public as constitutionally valid.
The industrialist-turned politician filed a public interest litigation in 2013 arguing that the Section 66A was unconstitutional.
“The battle to uphold citizens’ freedom of expression on the internet is an arduous fight,” he lawmaker noted, claiming that 575 people were languishing in jail after arrests that were illegal and void.