The Supreme Court said it would examine the term “grossly offensive” used to describe section 66A of the Information Technology Act (IT), allegedly misused by the police to justify arrests of users posting comments on social media websites.
A bench of Justices J Chelameswar and Rohinton F Nariman told additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta that a “grossly offensive” act may offend one person but not the next. “It’s a vague term. Central governments come and go but Section 66A remains forever,” the bench said. Mehta contended nothing was “grossly offensive” unless it led to violence.
“It is the case of the central government that Section 66A, which uses expressions like causing ‘annoyance’, ‘inconvenience’, ‘obstruction’ etc mainly to deal with cyber crimes and has no relation with the freedom of speech and expression of any citizen,” he added.
SC will continue to hear a batch of petitions challenging arrests of those who allegedly posted “objectionable” content on Facebook. One such arrest was that of two girls in Mumbai who opposed the city being shut down for Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray’s cremation.