Take note. The Supreme Court has ruled that no person should be arrested for posting objectionable comments on social networking sites without taking prior permission from senior police officials. SC added that state governments ought to ensure that the Centre's January 9-dated advisory is strictly adhered to. 

Reports quoted a bench comprising Justices B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra as saying, “We direct the state governments to ensure compliance with the guidelines (issued by Centre) before making any arrest.” It had been stated that the court cannot pass an order against making arrests, since the operation of 66A of the IT Act “has not been stayed by the apex court which is examining its constitutional validity”.


January 9 advisory must be strictly adhered to (Image credit: Getty Images)

On January 9, the Centre had issued an advisory to all states and UTs, even as there was public outrage over the arrests of those commenting or “liking” posts on Facebook. The advisory asked state governments and UTs to not arrest a person without the prior permission of a senior police officer. It read, “State governments are advised that as regard to arrest of any person in complaint registered under section 66A of the Information Technology Act, the concerned police officer of a police station may not arrest any person until she/he has obtained prior approval of such arrest from an officer, not below the rank of inspector general of police (IGP) in metropolitan cities or of an officer not below the rank of deputy commissioner of police (DCP) or superintendent of police (SP) at district level, as the case may be.”  

According to the Section 66A of the IT Act, any person sending any information “that was grossly offensive or has a menacing character”, using a computer resource or communication device, could attract a prison term of maximum 3 years, in addition to being fined.

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