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Section 66A (IT Act) was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015

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A post is being shared on social media with a claim that there will be no more arrests (‘jail custody’) for any kind of posts on social media as Supreme Court has struck down the Section 66A of IT Act, 2000. Let’s fact-check the claim made in the post.

The archived version of the post can be found here.

Claim: No more arrests for any kind of posts on social media as Section 66A of IT Act, 2000 has been struck down by the Supreme Court.

Fact: Section 66A of IT Act, 2000 has been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015; not recently. Also, there are various provisions in other laws under which a person can be arrested for posting specific content violative of those laws on social media. So, a person is accountable for his posts on social media and can still be arrested. Hence the claim made in the post is MISLEADING.

When searched about the news mentioned in the post, it was found that Section 66A of IT Act, 2000 has been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015; not recently. But many news articles regarding the arrests of persons for their social media posts were also found after 2015 i.e. after the striking down of the mentioned section. So, let us look at this section and other issues related to arrests made for posting on social media in little more detail.

What is Section 66A of IT Act, 2000 and when it was revoked?

The provisions of the Section 66A (which was inserted through IT (Amendment) Act, 2008) can be read in the picture below (snapshot of IT Act, 2000). In the IT Act, it is now mentioned that Section 66A has been struck down by the Supreme Court’s Order on 24 March 2015 in the Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India case. The SC judgement striking down the section can be read here.

But it was found that there are various other provisions in the Indian Penal Code and other laws under which a person can be arrested for posting specific content on social media. Some of those provisions can be read below:

Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005:

Various news reports regarding people getting arrested under this act for posting fake news on social media can be found on the internet. The tweets from the Rachakonda Police regarding the arrests of various people under this section can be found here, here and here. Also, one can be arrested for spreading false information on social media regarding diseases like COVID-19 under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897.

Various IPC Sections:

A news article regarding the arrest of a person in Assam for a Facebook post critical of PM Modi and Delhi riots can be found on the ‘India Today’ website. In the article, it can be read that he was booked under sections 295(A), 153(A), 507 of the Indian Penal Code and section 66 of the IT Act (not Section 66A). Also, in another incident, a person was booked under sedition (IPC 124(A)) and other provisions of IPC for his comment (‘disrespecting’ UP CM Yogi Adityanath) on a Facebook post.

There are many other incidents where people have been arrested under various other sections of IPC for their posts on social media. Whether some of those sections should be used or not for such incidents is debatable and it is for the courts to decide but the details regarding some of those IPC sections can be read below:

Other sections of IT Act, 2000:

While Section 66A of IT Act has been revoked, there are other sections in the IT Act, 2000 under which a person can be arrested for spreading specific type of content like obscene pictures on social media. A news article regarding the rising cases under Section 67 of IT Act, 2000 can be read here.

To sum it up, while Section 66A of IT Act, 2000 has been struck down by the Supreme Court in 2015, there are various provisions in other laws under which a person can be arrested for posting specific content on social media violative of these other laws.

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