Over seven months after the draconian Section 66-A of the Information Technology Act was scrapped by India's Supreme Court, news did not seem to have trickled down to the police forces. In Madhya Pradesh, one Muslim man was arrested and charged last November under the same section that the courts decreed curtailed freedom of speech. Another Muslim man, on the other end of the state, was arrested for the same "crime" last week, even as we close in on the first anniversary of the seminal ruling that marked a major boost to the freedom of speech online in India.
Both were arrested because they had dared to view their opinion against RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat in comments on Facebook.
And what do the police have to say in defence for their actions? “We don’t know how to proceed because we came to know later that the Section 66(A) was struck down by the SC. We have sent the case details to the district prosecution office,’’ Satish Singh Chouhan, in-charge of Kotwali police station, told The Indian Express.
Meanwhile, the central government is reportedly planning to bring the dreaded section 66A in new packaging. According to reports, a committee under the home ministry has made recommendations on an amendment to the existing IT Act, which would bring back some features of the erstwhile section 66A, albeit in a more nuanced and specific way.
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