The Supreme Court on Friday issued notices to the Central government, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Delhi while hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Delhi student Shreya Singhal, where she has described Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act as unconstitutional.
The apex court has directed the Maharashtra government to explain the circumstances that made the police to arrest two girls,Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan, in the state for a Facebook post on Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray´s funeral this month.
The state government was directed to file the response within four weeks.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Altamas Kabir and Justice J. Chelameswar was quoted as saying: "The Maharashtra government is directed to explain the circumstances under which the two girls were arrested for posting comments made by them on Facebook."
Meanwhile, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati, who was called by the Supreme Court to appear before it, clarified the position of the government and said the arrests were unjustified.
He, however, defended Section 66A of IT Act and said there was nothing wrong with it, reports said.
The court also sought the response of West Bengal and others over similar incidents within four weeks.
"I am happy with the SC response. Freedom of speech is utmost important and that should be protected," Shreya Singhal told CNN-IBN.
The Supreme Court on Thursday said it will examine the constitutional validity of the Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act.
The Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir directed the hearing of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Delhi student Shreya Singhal.
Singhal, who is a law student, has described Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act as unconstitutional in her PIL.
"I feel it is a violation of free speech, it hasn´t been updated, and people are using it wrongly," Singhal told NDTV.
In the PIL, the Delhi student has contended: "The phraseology of Section 66 (A) of the IT Act, 2000 is so wide and vague and incapable of being judged on objective standards, that it is susceptible to wanton abuse and hence falls foul of Article 14, 19 (1)(a) and Article 21 of the Constitution."
"Unless there is judicial sanction as a prerequisite to the setting into motion the criminal law with respect to freedom of speech and expression, the law as it stands is highly susceptible to abuse and for muzzling free speech in the country," she said.
Making a reference to the recent arrest of two girls for a Facebook post on Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray´s funeral, Chief Justice of India Altamas Kabir told media: "The way the little children were arrested, it outraged the sentiments of the country. The way these things had been taking place needs some consideration so that in future it does not take place."
"We were wondering why no one has approached the Supreme Court (over this) and even thought of taking up the issue suo moto," Kabir said.
Singhal in her PIL has drawn the attention of the apex court to certain incidents where Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act was misused.
Pertinently, Section 66 (A) of the IT Act, which was framed in 2008, provides for action against people for posting ´offensive´ and ´annoying´ comments through a computer or other electronic mediums.