HYDERABAD: Though the Supreme Court had, as along back as March 2015, struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act as unconstitutional in its entirety, a local court here has recently sentenced a man by invoking the draconian section, much to the shock of the legal fraternity.
The local court said in its judgment that the accused was sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for a period of one year and to pay a fine of ` 5,000. In case of default to pay the fine, he had to undergo simple imprisonment for a further period of three months for the charge under Section 66A of the IT (Amendment) Act 2008.
This judgment has raised a serious doubt if Section 66 A of Information Technology Act was still in force and part of the cyber crime laws in the country. If one goes as per the judgment by the local court in Hyderabad, the law is still in existence.
However, cyber crime legal experts say that the sentencing is in violation of Supreme Court’s order striking down Section 66A of IT Act.
Speaking to Express, Pavan Duggal, Supreme Court advocate and expert in cyber law, said, “The Supreme Court is superior in the country and once it passes an order on any issue, the lower courts must follow it. The apex court has struck down Section 66A of IT Act, terming it unconstitutional.
“After the Supreme Court passed such an order, conviction of an accused by a local court invoking the same section is a clear violation of SC’s order.”
Case: Harassment of minor girl
In 2010 the cyber crime cell had registered a case against a person working with the Leading Aircraft Safety Equipment (LASE), INS Shikra, in Mumbai for harassing a minor girl based in Hyderabad on Facebook.
The case was booked under Sections 66(A), 67 and 67-B(c)(d) of the Information Technology Act 2008 and Section 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
After completing the investigation, the investigation officer filed a charge sheet before the court. The local court heard arguments from both sides and convicted the accused under Section 66 (A) of IT Act a few days ago.
Gopala Krishna Kalanidhi, counsel for the accused and cyber crime legal expert, told Express: “The Supreme Court had struck down section and deemed it unconstitutional. We will approach higher court and oppose the judgment passed by lower court. Although we have a chance to file a petition for review of the existing order issued by local court, I will bring the issue to the notice of higher court for further arguments.”