Bal Thackeray Facebook girls' arrest: Don't throttle dissent, says 'sad' Kapil Sibal

Telecom and IT Minister Kapil Sibal today said he was "deeply saddened" by the arrest of two girls over their Facebook post questioning the shutdown in the city for Shiv Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray's funeral and said the IT Act should not be used to "throttle dissent".

He also stressed the need for educating enforcement authorities on the sections of the Information Technology Act to prevent "misuse" of the Act.

"I am deeply saddened (by the arrest of the two girls). It is just their point of view and enforcement of these laws are not to ban people from expressing their views," he said.

He said sending people booked under Section 66(A) to judicial custody is not in accordance with law and suggested that it could be "illegal".

Sibal said the law itself says it is a non-bailable offence and if a person is arrested under it, he should be given bail immediately.

He said there was a need to educate enforcement agencies on how not to misuse the law and how better it can be enforced.

The two girls - Shaheen Dhada and Renu Shrinivas - were sent to 14-day judicial custody by a court before which they were produced today but were granted bail within hours after they furnished personal bonds, police said.

Dhada was arrested after she posted comments on social networking site opposing the shutdown in Mumbai. 86-year-old Thackeray was cremated yesterday.

She allegedly said that one should not observe bandh for Thackeray's funeral. "We should remember Bhagat Singh and Sukhdev," the post said.

Dhada's friend Renu was arrested for 'liking' the post.

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