Social media posts containing political views or decent humour cannot be prohibited, the Centre has told the Supreme Court. (Reuters)
The government today told the Supreme Court that it was not averse to the posting of extreme political views in the cyber world, but placed documents to buttress its argument that outrageous and offensive contents hurting religious sentiments needed to be blocked.
"The extreme political views or contrary views and decent humour cannot be prohibited," Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar and RF Nariman.
The ASG, however, placed documents indicating that those posts which had the potential of "outrageously and directly offending" religious sentiments needed to be prohibited in the cyber world.
Mr Mehta also wanted that the documents, placed in sealed cover, should be only for the perusal of the bench but when the opposite parties demanded them, he was asked by the judges to supply them the material.
The law officer then requested that the contents of the documents prohibited from posting in the social networking sites, should not be allowed to be circulated.
The brief submission by the ASG was made just ahead of the start of the hearing on a bunch of petitions seeking scrapping of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act for its misuse by law enforcing agencies in arresting people for sending alleged offensive messages.
The hearing on several petitions filed over the last two years had to be commenced afresh due to the change in the combination of judges in the bench.
The first PIL on the issue was filed in 2012 by a law student Shreya Singhal, who sought amendment in Section 66A of the Act, after two girls - Shaheen Dhada and Rinu Shrinivasan - were arrested in Palghar in Thane district as one of them posted a comment against the shutdown in Mumbai following Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray's death and the other 'liked' it.