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    Posted on 21 November 2012
    CURRENT AFFAIRS  
    MUMBAI ARREST

    Government issues fresh guidelines on application of Section 66(A)

    Complaints under Section 66(A) cannot be registered without the prior consent of a DCP or IGP

    Ashhar Khan
    New Delhi

    The Union Telecom ministry will issue guidelines regarding the application of Section 66(A) of the Information and Technology Act. The ministry has directed that the section cannot be applied without the consent of a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in rural areas not without the consent of officers to the rank of Inspector General of Police (IGP) in other areas.

    This prior approval by the senior officers will now be compulsory before a Station House Officer (SHO) registers such a complaint. As Tehelka had reported on November 21 the Union Minister of Communications, Information and Technology Kapil Sibal had also asked the ministry to gather all information regarding cases in which the controversial Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act had been invoked.


    Ministry hopes to refine Section 66A of Information and Technology Act

    Union Minister for Communications, Information and Technology asks for details about cases in which the section was invoked

    Ashhar Khan
    New Delhi


    The recent controversy surrounding police action on 21-year-old Shaheen Dhada from Palghar and her friend Renu has made the Central government wake up to the dangers of the Information Technology Act. The arrest of these two young women for posting a comment on Facebook has made the Information and Technology Ministry swing into action. Union Minister of Communications, Information and Technology Kapil Sibal has asked the ministry to gather all information regarding cases in which Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act has been applied. This will give the ministry sufficient data to bring in new changes in the Act.

    Union Minister for Communications, Information and Technology said, “We have called a meeting of all the stakeholders on this issue on the 29 November. We will get all the views on the matter and then take measures accordingly.” Sources in the ministry tell Tehelka that safeguards will be put in place for invoking Section 66A of the Act. Though, the fine print is still under active discussion, one of the measures to be implemented is that a decision regarding invoking Section 66A will be taken by the officer of the rank of Inspector General of Police. The ministry feels this will prevent reckless use of the section. The ministry also feels that it was incorrect on the part of the local police to use Section 66A on the two women in Mumbai. Kapil Sibal said, “I think that the Section was used without application of mind. It was wrong to be used in this manner. This section and the posting on Facebook should be seen in proper perspective.”

    Online censorship has always been a sensitive issue in India. These arrests have come at a wrong time for the government. The UPA 2 government has been under constant attack from various quarters for internet censorship. These incidents will only further the image of the government on this issue. However, the government is on a serious damage control mode Minister of State in the Information Technology ministry and also a Member of Parliament from Mumbai Milind Deora met the Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan on this issue. Deora also said that the law enforcing agencies need to be sensitized about the proper use of such laws. There have been sharp political reactions to this incident. Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut had said, "Shiv Sena chief was one of the most popular leaders in the country. If after his death there was a day-long bandh in Mumbai, nobody should ridicule it. If someone has done that, then it is natural for Shiv Sainiks to get angry." While the Congress and Janta Dal United termed the arrest as incorrect.

    Slanders, abuse, defamation, hurting religious sentiments, caste slur are all grey areas in our laws. The intent of the person being charged with such offences has to be established. It was evident that in the case of Shaheen Dhada the police were overstepping their brief.

    ashhar@tehelka.com


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    Posted on 21 November 2012
 

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