7 Yrs After 'Draconian' Sec 66A Was Quashed, India Proposes ...| MENAFN.COM

Thursday, 23 March 2023 08:58 GMT

7 Yrs After 'Draconian' Sec 66A Was Quashed, India Proposes Identical Steps At UN Conference

(MENAFN- Trend News Agency)

An Indian delegation to a UN conference on cybercrime in Vienna has proposed the use of measures that are almost identical to those in the controversial Section 66A of the Indian Information Technology Act, which was struck down as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2015, Trend reports citing The Print.

The second session of the United Nations Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) has been convened to negotiate a proposed UN treaty on“countering the use of information and communications technologies for criminal purposes”.

The Indian delegation — comprising officials from the ministries of home, external affairs, and information technology — had sent their proposal on 12 May and then presented it at the Vienna meeting Wednesday.

However, some points in the proposal seem lifted word-for-word from Section 66A of the IT Act, which was struck down by the Supreme Court because it was violative of the right to freedom of speech guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution.

Among the 13 sections of the Indian delegation's Vienna proposal, subcategory 4(d) — on“offensive messages through communication service etc”— is an almost exact copy of Section 66A curbs.

It recommends that a state should adopt“legislative measures” to criminalise information that is deemed to be“grossly offensive” or of a“menacing character”.

The same goes for sending out information,“known to be false”, for the purposes of“causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will…”

Finally, any electronic communication sent out“for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience or to deceive or to mislead the addressee or recipient about the origin of such messages” should be punishable by law, India's contribution to the AHC session says.

The proposal has riled digital activists.

“Terms like 'grossly offensive' are vague and give the government power to interpret it arbitrarily and misuse it. The UPA government did it when it had 66A,” digital activist and savetheinternet co-founder Nikhil Pahwa told ThePrint.

ThePrint tried contacting all the ministries involved in the proposal via email and phone calls but did not receive a reply until the publication of this report. If a response is received, this report will be updated.

Because of Section 66, several artists, journalists, and students had found themselves on the wrong side of the law due to their social media posts criticising various leaders.

However, despite being struck down by the apex court, the law has not died a quick death. As reported last year, since being scrapped, it has been invoked not only within police stations, but also in cases before trial courts across India — a fact described as shocking by the Supreme Court.

The Union government subsequently issued an advisory to states and Union territories urging compliance with the 2015 order, also citing earlier missives issued in this regard.


Legal Disclaimer:
MENAFN provides the information “as is” without warranty of any kind. We do not accept any responsibility or liability for the accuracy, content, images, videos, licenses, completeness, legality, or reliability of the information contained in this article. If you have any complaints or copyright issues related to this article, kindly contact the provider above.