The Indian Supreme Court has struck down the notorious Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. The law provision that has been quite often misused by police against innocent citizens exercising free speech on social media has been overturned!
Section 66A, an amendment added to Indian IT Law in 2008, enabled police to blatantly abuse and misuse their authority. The very vague Section 66A left a people of free speech feeling like their rights were more than compromised, and that there was no legal protection for themselves. The real danger and threat of this terrible amendment was that it was so vague and that it was left up to interpretation. This cannot be a justified law, because those left to interpret this will change over in time and that would lead to inconsistencies in the amendment's interpretation.
The new ruling should relieve an atmosphere of fear and gives citizens more confidence that they have a Supreme Court that will protect their basic rights as citizens.
The verdict which is seen as a breath of fresh air, signifies that the ruling court has more confidence in clarifying the law and can be more tolerable of dissent, allowing free speech to follow without fear of reprisal. It gives confidence back to its people and will enable internet users to to freely express themselves without fear.
The now infamous Section 66A amendment previously imposed a maximum punishment of three years in prison with additional fines for posting or sending information that is "grossly offensive" or has "menacing character" and for sending e-mails causing "annoyance or "inconvenience" to another. Point of fact is, none of these expressions were defined in the law, and this allowed it to be abused and misused by the police.
The Indian Supreme Court has made a loud and clear statement reminding legislators of their limits in making and enforcing laws that could violate the individual fundamental rights of all its citizens.
There are limits to be aware of, although everyone can now enjoy cyber freedom and post, write, discuss anything they like, if these actions lead to what has been labeled 'incitement to an offense' – then criminal law can be applied.
The best thing to take from this, is that the free flow of thoughts and ideas can come forth. The era of stifling oppressiveness is over!