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Outrage over FB posts arrests led me to file PIL against IT Act: DU student

CNN-IBN
Nov 30, 2012 at 06:55pm IST

New Delhi: Delhi University student Shreya Singhal, who has filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court challenging the Information Technology Act, has said that she filed the petition because she felt very strongly about the issue and felt outraged over the recent cases where arrests were made over Facebook posts.

Speaking to CNN-IBN, Shreya said that arresting someone on expressing their views was "gross violation of their freedom of speech and expression". Referring to the Palghar girls who were arrested for criticising Mumbai bandh for the funeral procession of Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray, she said, "I hope we get better results now...those girls were arrested for just voicing their opinion...it is a gross violation of freedom of expression."

The Delhi University law student further said that the vagueness of the wording of the Section 66(A) of the Information Technology Act was hindering the freedom of the people. However, she agreed that some safeguards were also required. "Safeguards are necessary but the act should not be vague," said Shreya.

Making another effective point, the petitioner said that it was not just the government which was misusing the law, but added that it was more dangerous when those in power misused it.

She said, "In the case of Air India employees, it was the rival union which used this act against them. So it is not just politicians who are misusing it, but it becomes more dangerous when people in power start misusing it."

The law student also sought support from people, saying "anyone who wants to join to help ensure our freedom is welcome". Shreya said, "I have got plenty of support from friends and family and if this support continues, we might get a positive outcome."

This came even as the Supreme Court on Thursday issues notices to Centre, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Delhi and Puducherry governments over the petition filed by Shreya. The court even asked Maharashtra to explain the arrest of the two Palghar girls over a Facebook post.

The Attorney General, in his response to the petition, told the apex court that the arrest of the girls was unjustified. The Attorney General said the arrests were wrong, but Section 66(A) of the IT Act need not be scrapped.

Reacting to the court's action, Shreya had said, "I am happy with the SC response. Freedom of speech is utmost important and that should be protected."

Meanwhile, politicians and cyber experts say the section should be re-written. BJD leader Jay Panda will move a private members' bill seeking changes in the IT law.

Even as the debate over Section 66(A) continues, Mumbai's Joint Police Commissioner, Himanshu Roy admitted that police officers need more training and sensitisation while dealing with cyber crimes. Speaking to IBN18 Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Himanshu Roy said, "Cyber crime is a special type of crime, it needs specialised investigation skills which are not available with all police stations, which are more attuned to dealing with garden variety property and body offences. We need more training and more sensitisation there."

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