We respect freedom of speech, don’t support UPA’s stand: Centre on Sec 66A
Government conveys in writing to Supreme Court that it is not in favour of curtailing communication. (Source: Express Archive)
Government on Tuesday made it clear that it differs with previous UPA regime’s stand on Section 66A of IT Act, which has been scrapped by Supreme Court, and has conveyed it in writing to apex court that it respects freedom of speech and expression and is not in favour of curtailing communication of honest dissent or criticism on social media.
At the same time, it had conveyed a request to the court that government is willing to come out with additional, more stringent guidelines so as to prevent abuse of Section 66A of the Act which allows arrest of a person for posting allegedly “offensive” content on websites.
“Our government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a very conscious decision that we don’t support the stand of the previous government.
“We respect the freedom of speech and expression. We respect communication of ideas on social media and we are not in favour of curtailing communication of honest dissent, opinion, disapproval or criticism on social media,” Union IT Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said.
In his initial comments on the Supreme Court verdict, he said the government had stressed that it will not support any interpretation of Section 66A of IT Act that curtails the ideas of freedom of speech and expression enshrined under Article 19(1) of the Constitution.
“It is very important to be noted that in our affidavit filed, apart from reiterating our new position on behalf of Government of India, we have clearly conveyed that if Section 66A of the IT Act cannot be interpreted in consonance with Article 19(1) read with Article 19(2), then we don’t support that interpretation at all,” he said.
Though Prasad said he will come with a structured response once he reads the entire judgement that runs into 200 pages, he said, on government’s instruction the additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also conveyed a request to the bench that “government is willing to come out with additional more stringent guidelines so as to prevent abuse of Section 66A of the Act”.
“I am awaiting the judgement. The Government of India’s stand is quite different from the previous government’s and it has been very clear and consistent which I have just mentioned. I will come with a structured response after going through the judgement,” he said.
Source:: Indian Express