Centre To States: Immediately Withdraw All Cases Under Section 66A Of IT Act

New Delhi: Days after the Supreme Court expressed shock over continued registration of cases under the repealed Section 66A of Information Technology (IT) Act, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on Wednesday directed state governments and police authorities to immediately withdraw cases registered under it and stop registering such cases.

“It has been brought to our notice through an application in the Supreme Court that FIRs are still being lodged by some police authorities under the struck down provision of Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000. Hon’ble Supreme Court has taken a very serious view of the matter,” MHA said in its advisory to Chief Secretaries and Director Generals of police.

The Home ministry directed chief secretaries and police chiefs to withdraw such cases. “If any case has been booked in your state under Section 66A of the IT Act, it should immediately be withdrawn.”

The apex court had, on March 24, 2015, struck down the much-abused section which authorised police to arrest people for social media posts construed to be ‘offensive’ or ‘menacing.’

People’s Union for Civil Liberties, an NGO, informed the court earlier this month that 229 such cases were pending in 11 states. As many as 1307 cases under Section 66A were lodged by the police in these states after the provision was repealed.

“What is going on? It is terrible… shocking. It is distressing,” the Justice Rohinton F Nariman-headed bench observed nine days ago and asked the government to ensure that police stop invoking Section 66A of the Act in First Information Reports (FIRs).

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