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Why a Delhi student has challenged the law used for Facebook arrests

Why a Delhi student has challenged the law used for Facebook arrests
New Delhi This morning, a young law student, Shreya Singhal, asked the Supreme Court to review the law under which two young women were arrested recently in Maharashtra for their Facebook posts.

Shreya Singhal told NDTV, "People express their views on television etc also but they are never arrested. Then why should Internet be any different? It is just another public platform. I feel that the law is being misused for the arrest of the people who express their views, and criticism."

The Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir, said Ms Singhal's petition against Section 66(A) of the Information and Technology (IT) Act is welcome. "We were wondering why no one has approached the Supreme Court (over this) and even thought of taking up the issue suo moto," the Chief Justice said.

Section 66 (A) of IT Act deals with spreading hatred through electronic messages, but has been criticized for the vagueness of its language, which makes the law easy to misuse.

It provides for a jail term of up to three years, makes it an offence to "send, by means of a computer resource or communication device, any information which is grossly offensive, menacing, causes annoyance or hatred."

In her petition today, Ms Singhal refers to the arrests in Maharashtra last week of two women who posted comments on Facebook about the shutdown in Mumbai that followed the death of Shiv Sena president Bal Thackeray. The police case against them was filed by a Shiv Sena leader. The case provoked widespread outrage, and charges against the women were dropped today.

Ms Singhal also refers to an incident in April this year where a professor in West Bengal was arrested for posting a cartoon about chief minister Mamata Banerjee on social networking sites.
Story First Published: November 29, 2012 13:47 IST

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