Onus on states to implement Supreme Court order quashing Section 66A

Source: timesofindia.indiatimes.com | thehindu.com

Synopsis:

The centre has given its reply to a petition filed by PUCL pertaining to misuse of Section 66A by the state police. The Centre said that the onus lies with the states to implement the apex court’s 2015 judgment.

Background:
  • The Union government informed the Supreme Court (SC) that the onus lies with the states to implement the apex court’s 2015 judgment. 
    • The court had quashed the ‘draconian’ section 66A of the Information and Technology Act in 2015 Shreya Singhal Case.
  • The Union government also clarified that it has repeatedly advised the states to drop all cases registered under the provision.
Need for such clarification:
  • On July 5, the SC had expressed shock and dismay over police continuing to register cases under section 66A despite it being quashed six years ago. 
  • NGO ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ (PUCL) had pointed out that states have registered thousands of cases post the 2015 judgment.
    • Maharashtra registered 381 more FIRs, invoking Section 66A post-judgment.
    • Uttar Pradesh had registered just 22 cases before 2015, but its police went on to file 245 more cases after the judgment. 
    • Similarly, Jharkhand had just 43 FIRs prior to the judgment but went on to register 291 FIRs after the SC verdict.
  • The NGO demanded that the Centre government should step in for immediate withdrawal of such cases.
What needs to be done?
  • A series of directions is required for implementation of the SC judgment in letter and spirit by the states.
  • The state governments must be directed to collect and collate all information about cases lodged and pending under 66A and order their immediate withdrawal. 
  • This could be achieved by giving a direction to the DGPs to take necessary steps and to the HCs to issue suitable advisory to the district judges for closure of cases in the courts within their jurisdictions.

The matter is scheduled for fresh hearing on 1st August before the SC bench headed by Justice Nariman.

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