Police to review cases against youth under Section 66A

Police to review cases against youth under Section 66A

Will consult legal experts: IGP

With Supreme Court scrapping Section 66A of Information Technology Act, Jammu and Kashmir Police will consult legal experts and review the cases registered against youth under the Section during last several years. 

“We will consult legal experts on the issue,” Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Syed Javid Mujtaba Gillani told Greater Kashmir. “After consultation with legal experts, we will be able to review these cases.” 

Section 66A defines the punishment for sending “offensive” messages through a computer or any other communication device like a mobile phone or a tablet. A conviction can fetch a maximum of three years in jail and a fine. 

Since 2010, at least 12 cases involving 32 people, mostly youth, have been filed under Section 66A in different police stations of Kashmir. 

The first case under Section 66A was registered soon after the killing of teenager Tufail Matoo in police action in old Srinagar. On that day Faizan Samad was booked under Section 66A for posting pro-freedom slogans on Facebook. 

In the second case, police booked three residents of Pulwama, Budgam and Baramulla for what police said spreading rumors and fabricated information among masses by using Internet. 

Noted broadcaster and now Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) leader Nayeema Ahmad Mehjoor was also one of the victims of 66A. Police filed an FIR against her for her views on Facebook regarding a killing in Srinagar on June 6, 2011. On that day a businessman was killed in Lal Chowk and Mehjoor wrote on Facebook: “Why did police kill this man in Lal Chowk? Any reason?” Police that day had said that she was spreading disaffection as she had claimed that the shooting at Lal Chowk on June 6 was carried out by police. 

A police official who has investigated cyber cases said that 14 persons, mostly youth, were booked in 2012 for their alleged role in organizing protests on social networking websites. 

Police records maintain that in October 2012 three youth from Kishtwar district were arrested and sent to jail for 40 days after they were tagged in an allegedly blasphemous video posted on Facebook. One of them had commented on the post. 

In January 2013, records maintain that police filed a case (Fir No. 12/2013) under the same Act against an unknown person who had uploaded a video clip on Facebook showing a group of policemen ruthlessly beating a young boy inside a police station in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district. The boys were shown pleading before two senior officers, even as the cops stripped them and hurled abuses at them. 

Salman Nizami, a Congress leader, was also booked under the Section while as in February 2013 police registered a case against half a dozen youth for posting messages against an all-girl rock band “Pragaash”. 

“Section 66A of the Information Technology Act is unconstitutional in its entirety,” the Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday, striking down a provision that had led to the arrests of many people for posting content deemed to be objectionable on the Internet. 

“It is clear that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right,” said a Bench of Justices J. Chelameswar and Rohinton F. Nariman. The definition of offences under the provision was open-ended and undefined,” the Apex Court said.