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Internet freedom: Cops rue end of cyber law

DC | K.K. ABDUL RAHOOF
Published Mar 25, 2015, 2:24 pm IST
Updated Mar 29, 2019, 2:12 pm IST
There is no clarity about what is offensive: Rights panel

Hyderabad: Cyber crime police of Hyderabad and Cyberabad have booked 268 cases under Section 66 A of the IT Act in the last year.

Among them were cases against those who made “offensive comments” against political leaders like the CM. Filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma was also booked multiple times for making blasphemous and offensive comments on religion.

 

Cyber crime officials say they are verifying the latest ruling of the Supreme Court, and if the order says it is retrospective, they would scrap the section from each FIR. Otherwise, they will just stop including it in future cases. Cops added there had been no immediate arrests in Hyderabad wherein Section 66 A was only the section a person was charged with.

“Article 66 A was added in most of the FIRs related to Facebook crimes, abusive mails and messages. There are cases in which only 66 A was mentioned. We are verifying the SC judgment and will implement it soon,” said Dr B. Anuradha, Cybercrime ACP of Central crime station.

 

While several people have supported the SC ruling, most senior police officials are not happy. They believe that though the Act was ‘vague’, it was a power tool to curb cyber criminals.

“In this situation, which powerful Act are we going to slap against these cyber stalkers and criminals, who even push victims to suicide? Now future criminals will have a free run because we have lost a powerful section in cyber law,” said a senior IPS official.

However, IT professionals and human right activists praised the SC move. “This is a landmark judgment for 30.2 crore Internet users in India. Section 66 (A) defines the punishment for sending ‘offensive’ messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. There is vagueness about what is ‘offensive’. The word has a very wide connotation, and is open to distinctive, varied interpretations. Most of the terms used in the Section have not been specifically defined und-er the Act. The Section tramples upon the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression,” said The Telangana Information Technology Association founder president Sund-eep Kumar Makthala.

 

Last November, in a famous case the LB Nagar police had charged this Section against the Telugu Desam Party Facebook page administrator for circulating a morphed photograph of Telangana Chief Minister Mr K. Chandrasekhar Rao. In the morphed picture, the CM looked like Adolf Hitler.

 

 

 

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