While Supreme Court’s decision of removing section 66A from the Information and Technology Act came as a relief for the defendants of free speech, there are some frowning faces as well. Azam Khan is one of them.
Just a few days back, Azam Khan filed an FIR against a boy studying in standard 11 as he had shared something on Facebook which the Samajwadi Party leader found offensive and derogatory. The decision of the Supreme Court means that the boy can no longer be held in police custody and hence was granted bail. This has certainly made people like Azam Khan unhappy, who have used the vague nature of this law to their advantage.
When the reporters asked for his views on the decision, he said, “Aap log aparadhiyon ki himayat kartey hain (you support criminals)”.
He supported the action taken by the Bareilly police by saying, “Law is enforced with strictness and he has been arrested within 24 hours. Comments were made against me earlier also on Facebook”.
I am pretty sure Azam Khan is not the only one who is facing the heat of this decision. Shiv Sena Party people are cringing too, as they also had taken undue benefits of this law a couple of years back. They got two girls arrested after they commented on Mumbai shutdown on Facebook, post Bal Thackeray’s death. They feel, that this new provision will weaken the law enforcing agencies in striking a balance.
Another recent case where section 66A was misused by a political party was when a BJP activist filed an FIR against a student leader from Mangalure. The complaint was made after he circulated a caricature depicting Arvind Kejriwal as the hunter and Narendra Modi as the prey after the Delhi elections.
Caricatures, cartoons, Facebook posts, all these are different forms of expressing one’s thoughts, and curbing them certainly doesn’t go by the principles of democracy. The Supreme Court dismissed this law as they found out that it was poorly drafted and unconstitutional. Justice R.F. Nariman said, “Section 66A is unconstitutional and we have no hesitation in striking it down,” and he also went on to add, “The public’s right to know is directly affected by section 66A.”
One thing is for sure now, no matter how much intolerant our leaders may be, they no longer have the right to put us behind the bars for sharing a status which might ‘hurt their sentiments’.
Stupid leaders fail and democracy wins, I wish I could say this more often, but nevermind, lets celebrate this win for now.