Case Name : SHREYA SINGHAL VS UNION OF INDIA
Author : Vaibhavi Batra
(2013) 12 SCC 73
Justice Jasti Chelameswar and Jutice R.F. Nariman
A major amendment was made in the year 2008, which introduced Section 66A in the Information Technology Act, 2000. This Section penalized sending of ‘offending messages’ on the electronic media. In 2012, two girls – Saheen Dhada and Rinu Srinivasan, were arrested by the Mumbai police on the offence of posting a comment on Facebook showing their displeasure at ‘bandh’ called in the wake of latte Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackrey. They were released later but the arrests attracted huge media coverage and widespread public protests. It was felt by the public that police misused its power by invoking Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.
Shreya Singhal and few other people filed a writ petition under Article 32 of the Indian Constitution, challenging the constitutional validity of the Section 66A, 69 and 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. The petitioner said that, Section 66A violates the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression of the citizens of the country mentioned under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution.
ISSUES AND FACTS OF LAW
Whether Section 66A, 69 and 79 are constitutionally valid?
Whether Section 66A is infringing the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression mentioned under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution?
The Supreme Court observed that, democracy is embarked with the principles of liberty of thought and expression. Thus, the Court declared Section 66A of the Indian Constitution as unconstitutional, as it abridges right of freedom of speech and expression of the people as mentioned under Section 19 of the Constitution of India.
The Court held that Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, which is, blocking of information for public access, is constitutionally valid in nature.
The court held that Section 79 of the Act is a valid subject to Section 79(3)(b) which means that the court can order the disablement of access of materials to the public if it is malicious in nature.