Section 66A and other legal zombies #IFFresearch #RightToMeme

Today marks Halloween, which is increasingly a day marked in urban India. It is a testament to our syncretic culture that a Halloween celebration gives occasion for people to express themselves with pageantry and costume. Timely as it may seem we take today not only with irreverence but also some seriousness when we call Section 66-A a legal zombie. Why ?

You must have heard about Section 66-A. It was a criminal offence which was vague and used to jail people for comments they made online. It was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in March, 2015. This meant the use of Section 66-A, past, present and future would stop. But we find that despite its constititutional death Section 66-A continues its terrible afterlife. Police is still registering FIRs and Courts are still hearing 66-A cases. This is terrible for the freedom of speech online, undermines the rule of law and the judgement and authority of the Supreme Court of India.

Link to the paper

This paper is co-authored by Abhinav Sekhri and Apar Gupta and is available at SSRN. It is in a research series which is hoping to support rigour in digital rights scholarship to service public advocacy efforts. It is funded entirely by donations received from Indian internet users.

About IFF Research Series

The IFF Research Series supports young academics, scholars, technologists and researchers to author rigorous analysis and papers on pressing digital rights issues in India. Such work is being funded by public donations by ordinary internet users such as you to help understand and advocate for free expression, privacy and encryption, net neutrality and innovation. We will put all our papers up for review and comment on SSRN and invite any feedback at [email protected]