When Supreme Court’s foresight saved Sec 69A of IT Act

Satya Prakash

After banning 59 Chinese apps, India has additionally blocked almost 40 web sites run by Sikhs For Justice (SFJ) — a pro-Khalistan outfit declared “unlawful” below the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Both the selections have been taken below Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act that empowered the federal government to dam on-line content material within the curiosity of sovereignty, integrity, defence and safety of the State, pleasant relations with overseas states or public order or for stopping incitement to the fee of any cognisable offence relating to those grounds.

Many of the grounds talked about in Section 69A, together with ‘public order’ and ‘sovereignty and integrity of India’, weren’t there within the unique Constitution and have been added to Article 19(2) by first and sixteenth amendments to strengthen the restriction clause.

Also, it was the Supreme Court’s foresight that saved Section 69A of the IT Act that has now been utilized by the Centre to dam SFJ web sites and ban Chinese apps.

In Shreya Singhal’s case (2015), other than Section 66A, the validity of Sections 69A and 79 was additionally challenged. Section 66A that gave sweeping powers to the police to arrest people for posting annoying or offensive feedback in cyber house, Section 69A and 79 empowered the federal government to dam on-line content material and offered for exemption from legal responsibility of intermediaries in sure circumstances, respectively.

While declaring Section 66A unconstitutional for curbing residents’ proper to free speech, the Supreme Court learn down Section 79 and upheld the validity of Section 69A, saying the latter had a number of safeguards to examine its misuse.

Unlike the controversial Section 66A, which was abused by the police to mindlessly arrest offenders even after it was scrapped, below Section 69A solely the Centre can block data on the grounds talked about in Article 19(2) of the Constitution and the authorities are sure to offer causes in writing for his or her choices.

State instinctively acts to protect and defend itself from threats posed to its existence and to make sure security and safety of its residents. Often criticised by specialists for being a “completely inadequate” legislation from cyber safety perspective, the IT Act nonetheless retains some enamel to take care of sure exigencies.

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