Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down section 66A of the Information and Technology Act, saying it will help safeguard the rights of citizens.
The Maharashtra government recently assured the Bombay high court (HC) that it will be mandatory for the police to consult a district law officer before applying section 124A, which was deemed archaic.
“I had hoped for change, so people can express their opinions freely and without fear. There have been many cases where police officers have applied sections such as 66A and 124A, without giving it a second thought. I am optimistic that the Supreme Court’s order will curb these practices,” said Trivedi.
Trivedi was arrested by the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) police in Mumbai on January 30, 2012, after a case was registered against him for flashing some of his cartoons during a rally at the MMRDA ground in Bandra.
On March 17 this year, section 124A (sedition) was dismissed by the Bombay HC. Speaking about the order, Trivedi said section 124A is applied mostly under political pressure. “Where sedition is concerned, that section should not exist in a democracy like India. It is hoped that the new guideline will have a positive change and minimise exploitation using the charge of sedition,” he said.
Referring to the arrest of two young girls in 2012, after they posted comments on social media about the shutdown in the city following the death of Bal Thackeray, Trivedi said, “Within 20 minutes, their lives changed. It is worth giving a thought that these girls, who were not associated with any political party, were arrested for only expressing their opinion. They faced such treatment because officials misused section 66A.”
Incident: Trivedi was arrested in September 2012 for allegedly poking fun at the Constitution and the national emblem by drawing cartoons that were circulated at Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption rally in Mumbai in 2011.
Charges applied: Apart from Section 66(A) of the IT Act, he was charged with sedition under Section 124 A of the Indian Penal Code, and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act.