Centre to issue advisory to check misuse of IT Act provision


New Delhi, Dec 14:  Agreeing that a section of the IT Act was being misused, the government today said it will soon issue an advisory to states to check the practice as members in Rajya Sabha voiced concern in the backdrop recent arrests over certain postings on social networking sites.
 "As per our assessment, Section 66A of IT Act is being misused at several places. This is happening in many states, it's not limited to only one state," Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal said in the
 Rajya Sabha during Question Hour.
 He said the government was planning an advisory under which a junior police officer in the of rank of Sub-Inspector cannot arrest anybody till approval from a "certain high level".
 "We are thinking on this and hopefully soon we will issue the advisory," said Sibal.
 As per the amended guidelines, the approval of a DCP level officer will be required to Section 66A of IT Act. He also said the misuse of the Section was not rampant.
 "I have with me about five instances. Now, five instances cannot suggest such a rampant misuse in a population of 1.2 billion. But, that does not mean that there is no misuse. There has been misuse," he said.
 Sibal also said that in his opinion as well as of the government, the use of Section 66A was not proper in the Mumbai case.
 There has been uproar after two girls were arrested in Mumbai in November over a Facebook post criticising the bandh like situation in Mumbai after Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray's death.
 Section 66A provides for punishment up to three years for sending via electronic mail messages 'grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character'.
 The controversial provision later came under criticism in the Upper House in the post-lunch sitting when P Rajeeve (CPI-M) through a Private Member's Resolution said the "draconian" section needed  to be amended as it could be misused in future.
 Intervening, Sibal said, "There is no question of dilution (of the Act). We do not believe in emasculating the Act".
 Rajeeve said the Centre was planning to issue guidelines to states against the misuse of the law but it would not be of much help and only an amendment in it can ensure that such things are not repeated.
 Gyanprakash Pilania (BJP) said under the section, even an April fool joke on the social networking sites can land a person in jail for causing annoyance.
 He said Telecom Minister Kapil Sibal does not find any fault with the Act but the opposition feels there is one.
 Condemning police action against the two girls in Palghar for questioning the shutdown in the city following Bal Thackeray's death on Facebook by invoking Section 66A, Santaram Naik (Cong) noted such an incident does not prove the point that the Act has to be amended.
 Supporting the resolution, D Bandopadhyay (TMC) demanded that crimes under IPC should be incorporated under the IT Act, while Baishnab Parida (BJD) said if the Act is not amended then there would several instances of it being misused.
 Supporting the resolution, Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Ind) said it was incumbent upon Parliamentarians to seek corrections as "review of the Act is absolutely necessary".
 M Rama Jois (BJP) said the IT Act was passed in "hurry" and now the government is "worrying liesurely... This is nothing but legislative terrorism."
 Narendra Kumar Kashyap (BSP), Basavaraja Patil (BJP) and Rama Chandra Kuntia (Cong) were among others who participated in the discussion.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 15 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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