A day after Supreme Court struck down the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act; Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday posted his speech on Facebook in which he had raised concerns over the misuse of the provisions of the legislation in a debate in Rajya Sabha about three years back.
“Powers are, normally, assumed under these rules on the assumption that they won’t be misused. We feel the pinch only when they are misused. Therefore, I would urge the (IT) Minister to kindly reconsider the language of the kind of restraints that he wants to bring as a result of this notification,” read Jaitley’s post on the social media website quoting from the said speech.
Jaitley had made the remarks while participating in a debate on Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011, under the Information Technology Act, 2000, in the Upper House on May 17, 2012.
The guidelines were introduced by the previous UPA government to fix accountability of websites, internet and other companies for hosting information that may be found to be offensive.
Supreme Court yesterday struck down Section 66A of IT Act saying it was “unconstitutional” and could have a “chilling effect” on freedom of speech and expression.
“We, therefore, hold that the section is unconstitutional also on the grounds that it takes within its sweep protected speech and speech that is innocent in nature and is liable, therefore, to be used in such a way as to have a chilling effect on free speech and would, therefore, have to be struck down on the grounds of over breadth,” the apex court said.
Speaking during a discussion in Rajya Sabha held in the month of May, 2012, Jaitley, who was the then Leader of Opposition, had said that he agreed with the architecture of the guidelines to check misuse of internet to fuel communal frenzy, but had raised certain apprehensions.
“If I may just in a nutshell say, I am with the architecture that the minister is creating, because, if… there is some kind of a communal or caste problem, the internet can go viral and you can have a frenzy in the society, certain kind of information which creates disorder in the society may have to be restrained.”
“But then, to say, ‘take that power and then extend it by the use of such words where legitimate expression may become difficult’, there would be apprehension,” he had said.