Kapil Sibal says Facebook arrests wrong, mulls change in IT law to prevent misuse
“The girls should not have been arrested. About that there is no doubt,” he said. “But I don’t agree with those who say that since the act is liable to being misused, it is unconstitutional and hence should be scrapped. By this logic, why don’t we do away with provisions in other laws, particularly the Indian Penal Code, that are routinely misused?”
Asked to elaborate, he said: “Let’s look at Section 66A (of IT Act). It says ‘any person who sends, by means of a computer resource or a communication device any information that is grossly offensive or has menacing character...’ What does this mean? Anything offensive can’t be acted upon. It has to be ‘grossly offensive’. Words like ‘grossly offensive’ and ‘menacing character’ can’t be defined... (Similarly,) in the constitution, you can’t define what is ‘public interest’, ‘decency’ or ‘morality’. You can’t define ‘reasonable’. But you have these in the constitution... In the IPC, you have the term ‘mischief’. Who is to interpret mischief?... The law is not bad, (but) the implementation may be faulty. We need to rectify that.”
The minister said there was “no denying that there has been abuse” of Section 66A. “For that we need to sensitise law enforcement agencies that it is not the intent of this law that any innocuous statement made or any opinion is liable to be acted upon. Arbitrary arrests can’t be made,” he said.