New Delhi: As ‘police’ and ‘public order’ are state subjects under the Constitution, the primary responsibility for implementing the 2015 judgement which scrapped Section 66A of the IT Act lay with states and their law enforcement agencies, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.
The Centre has stated this in an affidavit to the apex court in response to a plea of an NGO, ‘People’s Union for Civil Liberties’ (PUCL), alleging that the steps taken by the Central government for ensuring effective implementation of the verdict are “far from adequate”.
Under the scrapped Section a person posting offensive messages could be imprisoned for up to three years and also fined.
In the affidavit filed before a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman, the Centre said state law enforcement agencies are responsible for taking action against offenders related to cyber crime.
“Police and public order are state subjects as per Constitution of India and prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of crimes, and capacity building of police personnel is primary responsibility of states.
“The law enforcement agencies take legal action as per provisions of law against the cyber crime offenders and accordingly the law enforcement agencies share equal responsibility to comply with the said judgement,” the Centre said.
The government also told the top court that it had directed the Chief Secretaries and Administrators of all states and UTs to direct all police stations not to register cases under Section 66A to ensure compliance with the top court’s judgement in the Shreya Singhal case.
The Centre said it had also requested them for submission of reports to the IT ministry on the number of cases booked under Section 66A of the IT Act, directing them to withdraw any prosecution invoking 66A.
Responding to the Centre’s affidavit, PUCL told the apex court that the steps taken by the Centre for ensuring effective implementation of the historic 2015 judgement, scrapping Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which has still been used for arresting persons for offensive social media posts, are “far from adequate”.
The bench, which scrapped the controversial provision from statute book by its verdict in the Shreya Singhal case, had on July 5 expressed shock after PUCL filed an application alleging misuse of the scrapped provision by authorities across the nation.