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Apex court issues notice on Section 66A of IT Act

Apex court issues notice on Section 66A of IT ActNew Delhi, Nov 30 - The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the central government and four states on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Section 66A of the IT Act that provides for proceeding against people posting annoying and inconvenient comments on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and other electronic mediums.

An apex court bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir issued the notice - also to Maharashtra, West Bengal, Puducherry and Delhi - after Attorney General G. E. Vahanvati told the court that Section 66A has been grossly abused and welcomed the court's intervention.

However, he said that per se there was nothing wrong with the section and defended it.

Petitioner Shreya Singhal has moved the Supreme Court seeking the striking down of Section 66A which was resorted to by the authorities to arrest two young girls: Shaheen Dhanda, 21, who had questioned the Mumbai shutdown after the death of Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray Nov 17 and her friend Renu Srinivasan who had 'liked' the comment on Facebook.

Singhal claimed that the section was vague and impossible to judge by objective standards, and thus liable to misuse.

Section 66A of the IT Act reads: "Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource…any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult… shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine." (IANS)