Web group plans ‘zombie tracker’ to maintain tab on FIRs filed beneath non-existent Sec 66A

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The Supreme Court had struck down Section 66A in 2015


The Supreme Court had struck down Section 66A in 2015 | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint file
The Supreme Courtroom had struck down Part 66A in 2015 | Manisha Mondal | ThePrint file


Textual content Measurement:

New Delhi: The Web Freedom Basis (IFF) has proposed to launch a ‘zombie tracker’, which is able to listing the situations when Part 66A of the Data Expertise Act — struck down by the Supreme Courtroom in March 2015 — has been used to curb dissent throughout the nation. 

The privately-run watchdog had final yr launched a analysis paper, which confirmed that circumstances have been nonetheless being filed beneath Part 66A of the IT Act. 

Its new tracker, to be made in partnership with CivicData Labs, will test if any recent Part 66A circumstances are being registered on a month-to-month foundation. The tracker will analyse and publish massive knowledge units that can be publicly accessible for scrutiny and civic consciousness.

The IFF proposes to focus on excessive courts and district courts of 14 states, which is able to probably embrace Assam, Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab, Rajasthan, Telangana, West Bengal, with potential additions based mostly on logistics. 

The organisation has already constructed a prototype of a digital dashboard from courtroom knowledge in Maharashtra and is presently on the lookout for funding, having submitted an in depth proposal for the Agami ‘Knowledge for Justice’ problem.

The info will ultimately be used to file an software within the Supreme Courtroom to convey higher consideration to the “sign failure” between courtroom judgments and enforcement by way of policing and the decrease judiciary. 


Additionally learn: NCW is reviewing cyber crime legal guidelines, says current IT Act doesn’t adequately assist ladies


‘What occurs to the typical Ashok Kumar?’

“Most individuals know that the issue in India isn’t the judgments however implementation,” IFF co-founder Apar Gupta informed ThePrint whereas explaining the thought behind the challenge.

He added that know-how “can truly be utilized in a constructive solution to additional not solely the rule of legislation framework however in its most applicable setting, which is to guard the liberty of speech and expression”.

The tracker, he stated, may also account for circumstances that don’t fall beneath the general public radar.  “Individuals lately solely speak concerning the Priyanka Sharma case or the Prashant Kanojia case however we don’t know what occurs past these very well-publicised incidents,” Gupta stated.  “What occurs to the typical Ashok Kumar?”

In response to Joanne D’Cunha, affiliate counsel at IFF, that is simply the beginning. “The thought is to have the ability to be particular in figuring out precisely the place we’re going flawed to repair that drawback,” she stated. “After we’ve checked out Part 66A, we additionally need to have the ability to monitor different provisions which have been declared unconstitutional, and use the identical logic there.

“The thought is that as an alternative of simply berating folks for not adhering to those issues, we’re making an attempt to be extra actionable and establish the place the hole is,” she added. “That’s the principal intention of the zombie tracker.”

Arbitrary, extreme and disproportionate 

Part 66A was inserted into the IT Act by way of an modification in 2008 to criminalise sending “offensive messages” on-line. It, nevertheless, was behind the arrests of younger school college students, a cartoonist and several other social media customers for his or her social media exercise.

 It was declared unconstitutional in March 2015 within the celebrated Shreya Singhal v Union of India judgment by a bench comprising Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice R.F. Nariman. 

The courtroom had then dominated that the authorized provision “arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately” invaded the best of free speech, violating Article 19(1)(a) of the Structure of India. 


Additionally learn: Supreme Courtroom choose Deepak Gupta slams ‘misused’ sedition legislation, says it’s time for re-look


The ‘zombie provision’

The IFF paper launched in November final yr confirmed, nevertheless, that Part 66A was nonetheless getting used throughout India — by police personnel, trial courts and even excessive courts. 

The paper, counting on authorized databases, stated that in over 9 months final yr, there have been no less than 45 such circumstances. It additionally cited media studies which claimed that individuals have been nonetheless being charged beneath Part 66A. 

The paper reasoned {that a} “sign failure” between completely different branches of the federal government led to Part 66A nonetheless getting used.

The paper highlighted the truth that the principle supply of knowledge — registration of crimes by way of first data studies (FIRs) in police stations — stays wholly outdoors the scope of those databases.

Aside from this, the Nationwide Crime Information Bureau (NCRB) knowledge for 2015 and 2016 additionally confirmed that widespread arrests continued regardless of the SC judgment. The NCRB, nevertheless, issued a “corrigenda” in 2016 clarifying that these numbers have been incorrect attributable to an error within the inner knowledge processing system. It additional stated that it’s going to not publish knowledge on Part 66A in subsequent studies.

Apex courtroom’s intervention

Citing the IFF analysis, the Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had filed an software earlier than the Supreme Courtroom demanding that the continued use of the availability be stopped. 

Disposing of the petition in February, the apex courtroom then directed the central authorities to ship copies of the Shreya Singhal judgment to the central secretaries of all state governments and union territories. 

It anticipated the chief secretaries to sensitise the police departments by sending copies of the judgment to the director common of police in every state. It additionally ordered all excessive courts to ship the judgment to the district courts.  


Additionally learn: Twice in every week, India strikes to clamp down free speech


 

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