Users across social media platforms on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court's scrapping of the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, hailing it as a measure that will strengthen freedom of expression online.
"This is the first SC judgment since the 60s to plainly strike down a law for free expression violation! #66A," tweeted Pranesh Prakash, policy director at the Centre for Internet and Society in Bengaluru.
Prakash, who tweeted "I AM ECSTATIC!!" minutes after the judgement, was one of the most vocal critics of Section 66A - which made offensive comments online punishable with jail terms - and played a key role in creating awareness about freedom of expression.
Apar Gupta, a representative of the People's Union for Civil Liberties (one of the parties that petitioned the Supreme Court against section 66A), also took to Twitter to jubilantly declare victory.
"My TL is a little crazy right now…This decision means a lot to me. Thank you. I am smiling." he posted.
Supreme Court advocate Karuna Nundy, who too represents PUCL, expressed her happiness on Facebook.
The top court struck down the provision, described as draconian by many internet rights activists, describing it as "unconstitutional" and a "restriction on free speech".
Section 66A, incorporated through an amendment of the IT Act in 2009, prohibited the sending of information of a "grossly offensive" or "menacing" nature through communication devices. It was used by several states to arrest people over posts on social media that officials claimed were "seditious" or "communally sensitive".
Take a look at some popular tweets welcoming the court’s judgement:
#DISGUST Politicians who previously said nothing about 66A or even defended it now jumping on the bandwagon.— Rohan Venkat (@RohanV) March 24, 2015
.@KapilSibal Don't you cry tonight my baaaaby...— Suffering Succotash (@CinemaPaithiyam) March 24, 2015
The law #Sec66A was passed by parliament without any discussion. Just a reminder about how much the people we elect care for our freedoms.— Bana de Lohagarh (@kamleshksingh) March 24, 2015
Discussions on social media against the provision had gained pace hours ahead of the court's ruling. Twitter, in fact, was abuzz as thousands used the hashtag #No66A to voice their opinions.
The discussions weren't limited to the blue bird; #66A was trending on Facebook too.
"Next election: vote for Supreme Court. #Sec66A," posted stand-up comic Sorabh Pant.And here’s a look at some comments readers shared with us on Facebook:
Reddit, known for being unabashed with opinion and language, wasn’t far behind. The first post announcing the verdict was upvoted 96% and garnered 460 points within four hours.
"Supreme Court zindabad! Now can we abuse Azam Khan without any fear?" commented user Apunebolatumerilaila.
Another user, Indian_galileo, wrote, "FINALLY, SOME SENSE HAS PREVAILED PRAISE THE OVERLORDS AT SC THANK YOU SC THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH."