Room for misuse in law against ‘offensive’ posts on internet


"It is a cognisable and bailable offence. But the police should have considered the gravity of the so-called crime. What was wrong in what the girl said? It is a clear case of abuse of power by the police and suitable action must be taken," said noted criminal lawyer K T S Tulsi.

Activists also say that under the Code of Criminal Procedure, anybody who is charged with an offence that could lead to a prison term of less than seven years has to be first served a notice by the police to appear before the investigating officer or appropriate court on a fixed date. If he responds and presents himself, he cannot be arrested, they say.

"However, the maximum punishment for violating section 66A is three years. The police should have given a notice to the two girls and not straightaway arrested them. They jumped the gun," said a senior lawyer.

That police personnel have little knowledge of the newer laws, especially those dealing with technology-based crimes, became evident two years ago when the Kerala High Court set aside an FIR in which a 20-year-old had been booked under section 66A. The court took a strong view of the fact that the amended law under which he had been booked was still to be notified and hence was not in effect till then.

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