Reflecting on the Supreme Court judgement in Shreya Singhal Vs Union of India, Mr Rajendran, a cyber expert from Chennai wrote as follows:
“No doubt it is a landmark judgement. But we in Cyber Society of India (and myself personally) consciously feel that the judgement is ‘unfortunate’ . In the enthusiasm to protect the freedom of expression, and laying more emphasis on it, we miss one vital point that the police (and the victims, potential victims, women in particular) lost a powerful weapon in our arsenal. In future, if a girl is harassed repeatedly (remember the phrases ‘grossly offensive’ or ‘menacing character’) by sms or emails, can any one successfully bring conviction under under our IPC?
Even the present NDA government is playing to the gallery in showcasing itself as the saviour of human rights to express, Press-friendly and media-friendly and in the process failed to stoutly defend the power that the IT Amendment Act 2008 thoughtfully gave. The government could have (and should have) submitted that the phrases like ‘grossly offensive’, ‘menacing character’ etc are sometimes misued and more clarity will be given by way of framing Rules, like it was done for blocking of websites and definition of ‘sensitive and personal information’.
The misuse of Section 66A was itself a Press hype. The Press failed to report the genuine cases filed by the Police resulting in well deserved conviction and always spoke about the high profile cases of Bal thackerey, Pondicherry case, Mamta Banerjea government cartoonist, Chinmayee case etc all of which were obvious misuses of power only.
Vagueness in interpretation, ambiguity in definition and reported misuse does not justify repealing of the Act or any section.
Perhaps, after a few years from now, the police, the press and all others who express jubilation now will repent that cyber stalking and misuse of the Internet cannot be curbed in this country (especially when a girl in the family is harassed in the Internet or by email or an offensive message).
Advocate and Cyber Law Consultant
President, Cyber Society of India
URL : venkrajen.in