The High Court of Allahabad summoned the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) of Mathura, seeking an explanation as to how the FIR had been filed under the now unconstitutional Section 66A of Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 before the next date of hearing. The present case is Mohan Singh v. State of UP and Ors. with the coram Hon’ble Ramesh Sinha, J. and Hon’ble Raj Beer Singh, J.
Background of the Case
In the status quo, no person can be arrested for posting any sort of social media posts. This is because Section 66A of the IT Act has been struck down three years ago by the Supreme Court of India. On the contrary, police departments across the nation continue to arrest and detain citizens under this ‘unconstitutional’ section of the said Act. The Allahabad High Court passed an order last week where the SSP of Mathura was called upon to seek an explanation as to why an FIR was filed under this impugned provision.
Mohan Singh (Petitioner) was filed under the sections 66A (Punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.) and 67B (Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit acts, in electronic form) of the IT Act along with sections 294 (Obscene acts and songs), 500 (Punishment for defamation), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 506 (Punishment for criminal intimidation) and 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of any woman) of IPC.
Submissions of the Petitioner
The Counsel for the Petitioner submitted that Mr Singh was charged under the Section 66A of the IT Act along with other sections of the said Act and IPC.
However, it was decided by the Supreme Court, in Shreya Singhal V. Union of India 2015 (5) SCC 1, that this particular section was unconstitutional. The provision was struck down citing its conflict with the Freedom of Speech and Expression & Personal Liberty. The petition was thus filed seeking the quashing of the FIR filed under the sections, above stated.
The Division Bench of the High Court of Allahabad, Justices Ramesh Sinha and Raj Beer Singh observed that an FIR cannot be filed under Section 66A of the IT (Amendment) Act, 2008. The Bench followed the precedent set by the Apex Court in Shreya Singhal v. Union of India 2015 (5) SCC 1, where the provision was declared to be ultra vires.
And it was decided by the court that:
“…Senior Superintendent of Police, Mathura is directed to file his affidavit explaining as to how the F.I.R. has been registered under section 66A of Information Technology (Amendment) Act, 2008 by the next date.”
The next hearing is set to be on August 26th, 2020.
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