Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which prescribes ‘punishment for sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.’ is widely held by lawyers and legal academics to be unconstitutional. In this post Pranesh Prakash explores why that section is unconstitutional, how it came to be, the state of the law elsewhere, and how we can move forward.
Back in February 2009 (after the IT Amendment Act, 2008 was hurriedly passed on December 22, 2008 by the Lok Sabha, and a day after by the Rajya Sabha but before it was notified on October 27, 2009) I had written that s.66Ais “patently in violation of Art. 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India“:
Section 66A which punishes persons for sending offensive messages is overly broad, and is patently in violation of Art. 19(1)(a) of our Constitution. The fact that some information is “grossly offensive” (s.66A(a)) or that it causes “annoyance” or “inconvenience” while being known to be false (s.66A(c)) cannot be a reason for curbing the