And therefore, the logics like ‘Section 66A is draconian but needed’ have been put to an effective rest…..until the policymakers come with yet another on the similar lines.
After all, policymaking is their prerogative and they follow it religiously.
And like with this provision that came when the Information Technology (IT) Act of 2000 was amended in December 2008, the next law will take another fight then.
Because it is basically about playing around with words. The word formation of the scrapped down Section 66A says this.
“Any person who sends by any means of a computer resource any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information which he knows to be false, but for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years and with fine.”
Mind the terms ‘grossly offensive’, ‘menacing character’, ‘annoyance’ and ‘inconvenience’. These four elements from the ‘defining character of 66A’ are menacing enough to unwind any rational thinking.
How to define what is grossly offensive and who should define it?
Okay, if the consensus is reached that ‘something posted’ is grossly offensive then how to scale the ‘level of offensiveness’ and how even courts can deliberate objectively on something so subjective?
There are laws on treason and public harmony to take care of something that intends to do so. Similar is the case for defamation and slander. Section 66A is not needed for all that.
So what else is of ‘menacing character’ false in the same shadow of ambiguity as the ‘perilous sanctity of something grossly offensive according to Section 66A’.
Add to it – ‘annoyance’ and ‘inconvenience’ were ‘menacing’ enough elements mentioned capping the anomalies of 66A taking it to the extreme levels of ridiculousness.
How can we define if some expression is causing ‘annoyance’ or ‘inconvenience’ beyond personal perceptions to work as objectively as the ‘upkeep’ of legal sanctity requires?
Also, how can we equip our legal jurisprudence to ‘define, scale and level’ – ‘annoyance’ and ‘inconvenience’ – in countless expressions that flood the social media sites and other internet platforms – expressions that are about personal airs than being the acts of ‘treason, public unrest, defamation or slander. Like said above, if so, all such expressions can, absolutely logically, be tried in every Indian court with backing of well-laid laws.
It is well established (and self-evident time and again) that our policymakers feel equipped enough when they make such laws but certainly (and rightly), our best legal minds don’t correlate with what their legislative counterparts think on the ‘legal relevance of human intellect’ in such matters.
And they expressed it again today, loud and clear – telling them Section 66A is legally draconian now – terming it unconstitutional and striking it down.