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India: Section 66A and the Intermediary Rules, Information Technology Act Challenged by PUCL

26 November 2013

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[See Report in The Times of India, followed by the PCL petition]

1. The Times of India
Centre gets notice for blocking of websites

TNN Nov 23, 2013, 12.44AM IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court, already examining the validity of Section 66A of Information Technology Act given its misuse by police to arrest persons making critical comments against political figures, on Friday entertained another PIL alleging that the restriction on free speech under IT Act was more stringent than that envisaged under the Constitution.

A bench of Justices R M Lodha and Shiva Kirti Singh issued notice to the Centre on the PIL filed by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), after advocate Sanjay Parikh argued that authorities were misusing the IT Act provisions to resort to indiscriminate blocking of web pages inimical to the establishment.

Sections 69A and 87(2) of IT Act "provide for blocking of web pages in India without proper publication or notice to public containing the reasons for blocking the websites", the petitioner said.

"Further, the process of blocking of websites is entirely secret and ex-facie fails to meet constitutional safeguards. The unreasonably restrictive procedure for banning websites, in addition, does not meet the procedural natural justice standards for book banning; e-books may thus be banned easily and secretively, immune to legal challenge as compared with their paper counterparts," the petitioner said.

2.

PUCL PIL Challenging Section 66A of the Information Technology Act by PUCLIndia