Business Standard

SC asks Maharashtra govt to explain FB arrests

Issues notices to Puduchery, West Bengal, Delhi and Centre to explain position on Section 66A

The Supreme Court has issued a notice to the Maharashtra government asking to explain the arrest of Shaheen Dadha and Renu Srinivasan, the two college students from Palghar who were arrested for posting "offensive" comments on facebook.

The court also issued notices to state governments of Delhi, West Bengal and Puduchery and the Union government in the matter of public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Delhi-based Shreya Singhal against the abuse of of the IT Act.

The chief justice’s bench which heard the matter, has given four weeks’ time to the government to respond and the matter is to be heard in six weeks.

The court also allowed cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, who also has  proceedings pending under the Section 66A, to implead in the matter.

Trivedi was charged and arrested for drawing cartoons that allegedly distorted and misrepresented the national emblem. Pudhuchery police had arrested a businessman for posting comments on Facebook based on a complaint by Karti Chidambaram, son of Union Finance Minister whereas a Jadhavpur University Professor was arrested by the West Bengal government for posting cartoons of Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee.

Singhal has filed a PIL challenging the constitutional validity of the Section 66A. Singh’s counsel asked the Supreme Court to issue directions saying complaints under this section cannot be registered unless Director General of police of the state approves it.

However, the court refused to pass any such directions. The Chief Justice observed that these actions (against Shaheen) appear to be motivated. “Somebody has blundered, that does not mean all the thousands of police stations in the country will take such motivated actions,” he said.

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