AHMEDABAD: , which is using to trap traffic offenders, is jumping constitutional signals in merry ignorance.
The tech-savvy police force uses an IT law rendered obsolete by the highest court of the land. On March 24, 2015, the Supreme Court had passed a judgment striking down Section 66A of Information Technology (IT) Act, holding it unconstitutional as the law hit the root of liberty and freedom of expression. But Gujarat Police has continuously been slapping the law on people. Police had registered 20 cases when the law existed between February 5, 2009 and March 23, 2015 which has almost doubled to 37 after it was held null and void.
It has been gathered through an RTI application dated December 17, 2018, that Gujarat Police booked 33 persons in 20 cases under Section 66A of the IT Act, which deals with punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services, between February 2009 and March 23, 2015, at eight police stations in Rajkot, Bharuch, , Vadodara, Tapi and Morbi districts.
But, since March 24, 2015, when a SC division bench comprising Justice J Chelameswar and Justice R F Nariman held the section null and void, Gujarat Police has arrested 43 persons in 37 cases.
Complaints will be withdrawn in a phased manner: CID
But, since March 24, 2015, when a SC division bench comprising Justice J Chelameswar and Justice R F Nariman held the section null and void, Gujarat Police has arrested 43 persons in 37 cases. These cases were registered in 16 police stations of Kutch, Bharuch, Rajkot, Mehsana, Surendranagar, Valsad, Morbi, Nadiad, Vapi, Surat and Banaskantha districts.
Two police stations — Langhnaj in Mehsana and Wankaner — did not register a single FIR when the law was in force but registered one case each after the section was scrapped.
A senior police official of Gujarat Police said that the police department does not hold regular training sessions to make the cops aware of the changes in law. “Even a police inspector of Gaekwad Haveli police station of Ahmedabad had filed such a case against a lawyer in August last year,” said a source.
Senior advocate S V Raju said cops cannot file cases under section 66A. “If this section is invoked by police in an FIR, the charges pertaining to it will be quashed by the court. A person can initiate contempt of court proceedings also against responsible officer not following the apex court’s order.”
Gujarat DGP Shivanand Jha did not comment on the issue directing the query to DGP, CID (crime) Ashish Bhatia.
Bhatia said that cops would begin to withdraw complaints filed under Section 66A in phase wise manner. “We would file C summary in all such cases. Wherever cases have reached the courts and chargesheeted, the same will be withdrawn after taking permission from concerned courts,” said Bhatia.