Top News

Govt sets up committee to address security concerns in wake of SC scrapping Sec 66A of IT Act

The Home Ministry has reportedly set up a committee to examine how to accommodate national security concerns after the Supreme Court struck down the Article 66A of the Information Technology (IT Act), reports the Times of India.

According to the report, the home ministry has begun examining how the provision can be reconstructed to conform to constitutional norms while eliminating the scope for ambiguities in its application.

The Home Ministry has reportedly set up a committee to examine how to accommodate national security concerns after the Supreme Court struck down the Article 66A of the Information Technology (IT Act), reports the Times of India.

According to the report, the home ministry has begun examining how the provision can be reconstructed to conform to constitutional norms while eliminating the scope for ambiguities in its application.

The committee, headed by Special Secretary (Internal Security) in the Home Ministry Ashok Prasad, will analyse the “void” created by scrapping of Section 66A of IT Act in the legal space to deal with national security issues and what steps could be taken to accommodate all these concerns, reports the Times of India, citing official sources. The panel has been asked to submit its report in a month, which will then be forwarded to the IT ministry.

Among the safeguards that will be woven into the amended provision are authorizing a senior police officer to register FIRs and execution of arrests only in “defined” circumstances.

According to the report, among the offences sought to be addressed by the new provision in the law are online support to a banned terrorist outfit; incitement to commission of an offence, particularly communal posts; electronic messages affecting relations with friendly countries; and, possibly, online activity in violation of morality and decency. However, to ensure that individual freedom of expression is not curbed, the proposed law will exclude ambiguous expressions such as “offensive language” or “causing annoyance” that left Section 66A prone to subjective interpretation.

According to the report, citing home ministry sources, the need for a tighter legal regime to govern online activity was felt as India is the third largest internet user in the world. Also, internet coverage in India will soon extend to 40% of its population.

Section 66A was struck down by the Supreme Court in a landmark verdict last month. Even as netizens celebrated this victory of freedom of expression, the enforcement agencies had sounded the home ministry on how quashing of Section 66A could tie their hands in dealing with crimes such as online support to a banned terror outfit, posts negatively impacting India’s relations with friendly countries and incitement to commission of an offence.

On Monday, at a meeting chaired by Union home secretary LC Goyal here, during which CBI chief Anil Sinha, NIA chief Sharad Kumar and Delhi Police commissioner B S Bassi were present, a multi-member committee was asked to examine the legal void left by scrapping of Section 66A and how to fill the same.

According to the Times of India report, explaining the need to revisit the need of a provision in the IT Act to deal with crimes that affect national security, a senior home ministry official said there was need to cover online support to a terror outfit not only under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act but also IT Act. Also, given that communal posts were largely addressed under Section 66A, it’s scrapping left the enforcement agencies no choice but to only book the offender under Section 153A of IPC.

Show More

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Close