In a landmark decision, the Supreme Court struck down section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, declaring it violative of Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. It must be remembered that the ‘section’ was rushed through and never debated as Parliament enacted the amendments to the act, in the shadow of the 26/11 attack. The decision was momentous in the light of recent book bans, website blocking and takedown requests.
Section 66A criminalised the use of sending―via a computer resource―“any information that is grossly offensive or has a menacing character; or any information known to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will”. A person could be imprisoned for up to three years under this section.