This Article is From Mar 24, 2015

Section 66(A) Scrapped: Meet Shreya Singhal, Petitioner Who Fought for Net Freedom

Shreya Singhal, who petitioned against Section 66A in the Supreme Court

New Delhi:

The end of Section 66A, the controversial law that allowed arrests for offensive content online, marks a big victory for Shreya Singhal, the young law student who was among the first to challenge it in the Supreme Court.

"I am ecstatic. It was grossly offensive to our rights, our freedom of speech and expression and today the Supreme Court has upheld that," Shreya told NDTV moments after the court scrapped the law, agreeing that it is unconstitutional and violates the rights of citizens.

"Nobody should have fear of putting up something because of the fear of going to prison. The court has upheld the rights of all citizens today," she added.

Shreya comes from a family of lawyers; her mother is a Supreme Court lawyer and her grandmother was a judge.

She was 21 when she filed a petition in 2012, after two young women were arrested for posting comments critical of the total shutdown in Mumbai after the death of Bal Thackeray, the Shiv Sena chief.

Shreya says her family encouraged her. "I am also a law student so through my studies also I knew that you can approach the Supreme Court directly," she said, aware that she has achieved, even before becoming a lawyer, what many veterans in the profession haven't.

She spent three years studying astrophysics in the UK before returning to India to apply to law schools. Her attention was drawn to several high-profile arrests of people under Section 66A.

"It is being misused by BJP governments, Congress governments... all over the country. Even when the Congress was in power, it was being misused. Governments have their own political agenda; a law has to be for the people," Shreya said.

The court today had strong words in support of that sentiment as it said, "Governments come and go. We can't act on assurance that Section 66A will not be misused."