Moneylife Events
Moneylife Foundation seminar on the IT Act and the draconian Section 66A

Section 66A of the Information Technology (IT) Act can be misused. Here is how you can protect yourself and avoid getting arrested while voicing your opinion on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc

 

At the 142nd seminar of Moneylife Foundation, Yogesh Pratap Singh, a former IPS officer and now a well-known advocate and activist, spoke on the IT Act and the draconian Section 66A. Section 66A provides for a jail term of up to three years for anyone who uses a computer or any other communication device to send information that is grossly offensive, menacing, causing annoyance or hatred. Following the uproar over arrests made under Section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act, 2008, the government had issued guidelines that state approval from an officer of the rank of deputy commissioner of Police (DCP) level in rural areas and Inspector General (IG) level in metros will have to be sought before registering complaints under the controversial section. But still, how far would such instances not be repeated would still be an issue.
 
Who better to explain the nuances of the law and the power of the State than the firebrand YP Singh. He has taken up innumerable public interest issues and does not hesitate to challenge the system. Section 66A of the IT Act is vague and can be misused. Abusing a person who is physically present is not a crime, but if someone abuses a person over online media, it can be a crime as per Section 66A. If one sells pornography on the street then six months’ imprisonment is given, but if done online then it comes under section 66A of sending obscene messages and the punishment is five years, clarified Mr Singh. This Section curtails the fundamental right of freedom of speech and is not defined properly. Mr Singh said phrases such as “grossly offensive” and “menacing character” have to be defined properly as they are subjective. One may say a particular comment is offensive, whereas, someone else would say it’s calling a spade a spade. Thus where interpretation is wide not only arbitrariness comes in but corruption sets in, as well. 
 
Law is determined by passion and not by reason. There cannot be two interpretations of the law, else there will be no equality. “Any law to be sustainable has to be applied equally to all. Law can’t be different for different people,” said Mr Singh. “For the law to be applicable fairly, all definitions have to be clear. The meaning of what is an offence has to be crystal clear. Section 66 is not at all clear. Most of the police force are unaware of the intricacies of the law. In any sense, the actual practice is ‘show me the face and I will show you the rule’, as the police say ‘pehele action baad mein section’.” he added. A police officer has to maintain law and order to save his posting. Thus to avoid any conflicts as seen in the Palghar case the girls were arrested and the sections were applied later. The two girls were first booked under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 295A (hurting religious sentiments). When it was realised the Shiv Sena is not a religious group the girls section 295A was dropped and section 505(2) (promoting enmity or ill-will between classes) and section 66A were applied.

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The new guidelines may have no effect, as there is rampant political interference in law enforcement is itself. Therefore it is difficult to say that senior police officers will always resist mob pressure. 
 
Cyber crime is still nascent in India. In 2010, 966 arrests were made under the IT Act most of them were under section 66A. In 2011, the figure increased by almost 90% to 1,791 cases. Around 20%-30% of the arrests were from Maharashtra.“The IT Act does not clearly define whether an offence is cognizable or not. However, if the offences is more than three years, the offence is cognizable and bailable, said Mr Singh. 
 
A few weeks back two girls were arrested over a Facebook post criticising the bandh-like situation in Mumbai after Shiv Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray's death while another boy was arrested for posting ‘vulgar’ comments against MNS chief Raj Thackeray and the people of Maharashtra on the social networking site. Other incidents in the past have been reported in New Delhi, Puducherry and West Bengal.
 
“But no matter what business he may be doing the police has to maintain law and order, this cannot be compromised. Now what happened in the Thane rural case? The Sena guys were putting pressure on the police to arrest the two girls. To maintain law and order, the girls were arrested and then the Section applied based on negotiations with the politicians.  This is against all acceptable legal processes,” said Mr Singh.
 
The second half of the event witnessed a highly interactive session where participants put forth their queries.
 
Membership to Moneylife Foundation is free of cost where members get access to such informative seminars and can utilise the state-of-the-art facilities at the Moneylife Knowledge Centre, to empower themselves. 
 
 If you are not a member of Moneylife Foundation yet, please fill the membership form here
 

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RTI Judgement Series: PIO penalised for not providing information about ration card

The PIO was fined for not providing proper information to the applicant within stipulated time about the status of her ration card. This is the ninth in a series of important judgements given by Shailesh Gandhi, former CIC that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

The Public Information Officer (PIO), in the Food supplies and Consumer Affairs department in the Government of NCT of Delhi, was fined for not providing proper information to the applicant within the stipulated time. While giving this important judgement, Shailesh Gandhi, former Central Information Commissioner said the public authority suo moto must provide details of ration card applications on its website and submit a compliance report to the Commission.      

 

“The PIO will give the information to the appellant before 10 July 2009 about the status of her application giving names and designations of the officers who have dealt with the BPL card application and where the application is presently. The Commission awards a total compensation of Rs2,500 to the appellant for loss of entitlement and to compensate for the effort and the trauma suffered in pursuing this matter,” the Central Information Commission (CIC) said in its order dated 2 July 2009.

 

Delhi-based Nagina Devi, on 6 March 2009 sought information about her ration card from the PIO. She had applied for a ration card in 2006 and in spite of repeatedly being shunted to various places did not get any ration card.

 

According to the PIO, the Delhi Government accepted applications for BPL cards during February-March 2009. The PIO said that the application was received and sent to a Vigilance Committee headed by Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the area. He also admitted that these cards are supposed to be given in 45 days but the time at the Vigilance Committee headed by MLAs takes indefinite time.

 

The Commission said, “The appellant has not been given any appropriate reply indicating what is happening to her ration card application. The approximate loss to her per month of free foodgrain and kerosene is about Rs500 per month. The loss of free foodgrain due to her is already three months which she has suffered is therefore Rs1,500 for three months. The Commission also feels that the loss of time and trauma which she has suffered on account of not getting her due entitlement and pursuing this application and appeal should be compensated with another Rs1,000.”

 

In his order issued on 2 July 2009, Mr Gandhi asked the PIO to give the information before 10 July 2009 about the status of Nagina Devi's application, giving names and designations of the officer who have dealt with the BPL card application and where the application is presently.

 

“The list of people for above poverty list (APL) and BPL cards with the dates of application dated on which the cards are given to them and reasons for rejection if any with dates must be provided suo moto by the public authority on its website. The PIO will inform the appropriate officer about this requirement of Section 4 and ensure that this is done before 15 August 2009. A compliance report will be sent to the Commission before 15 August 2009,” the order said.

 

Mr Gandhi also asked the PIO to ensure that the compensation of Rs2,500 is given to the appellant before 20 July 2009.

 

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

Decision No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001213+1214/3969

http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/SG-02072009-02.pdf

 

Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001213+1214

 

Appellant                                        : Nagina Devi

                                                           Delhi                            

                                               

Respondent                                      : AK Singh,

                                                            Asstt Commissioner (NW),

                                                            Office of the Assistant Commissioner, N/W Distt,

                                                            Food Supplies & Consumer Affair,

                                                            GNCT of Delhi, CSC, CC Block,

                                                            Shalimar Bagh, Delhi-110 088

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BSE Sensex, Nifty struggling to maintain uptrend: Wednesday Closing Report

Traders should sell the rally. A close below 19,300 on the Sensex and 5,870 on the Nifty would signal a downtrend
 

The Indian market closed lower despite the Index of Industrial Production rising to 8.2% in October. Presently the benchmarks are struggling to maintain the uptrend, however, a close below 19,300 on the Sensex and 5,870 on the Nifty would signal a downtrend. The National Stock Exchange saw a volume of 71.6 crore shares and an advance-decline volume of 626:824.

 

The market opened with small gains tracking supportive global cues. Investors awaited industrial output data for October, due later in the day, for further direction. Meanwhile, markets in Asia were mostly in the green in morning trade on speculations that the US Federal Reserve would unveil a new round of bond purchases at the end of its two-day meeting later today. Overnight the US markets closed higher even as some policymakers flayed president Obama for delaying the budget talks.

 

The Nifty opened 19 points higher at 5,918 and the Sensex started the day at 19,433, up 46 points over its previous close. Gains in auto and IT stocks pushed the benchmarks to their day’s highs in initial trade. At the highs the Nifty rose to 5,925 and the Sensex climbed to 19,479.

 

Profit booking saw the indices pare their initial gains and were range-bound on both sides of their previous closing levels in subsequent trade. A pick up in India’s industrial output for October did not help matters as the market continued its status quo.

 

Industrial production growth rate bounced back to a 16-month high of 8.2% in October on good performance of the manufacturing, power sector and higher output of capital as well as consumer goods. Factory output, as measured by the Index of Industrial Production (IIP), contracted by 5% in October last year.

 

A flat opening of the key European indices pushed the benchmarks to their lows in noon trade. The Nifty fell to 5,874 and the Sensex went back to 19,317.

 

The benchmarks continued to remain in the negative and closed lower for the second day in a row. The Nifty closed 11 points (0.18%) down at 5,888 and the Sensex finished trade at 19,355, a loss of 32 points (0.16%) over its previous close.

 

The broader indices continued to surpass the Sensex as the BSE Mid-cap index rose 0.06% and the BSE Small-cap index gained 0.24%.

 

The top sectoral gainers were BSE Consumer Durables (up 0.95%); BSE Auto (up 0.94%); BSE IT (up 0.38%); BSE TECk (up 0.34%) and BSE Oil & Gas (up 0.31%). The main laggards were BSE Capital Goods (down 0.99%); BSE PSU (down 0.81%); BSE Metal (down 0.71%); BSE Power (down 0.65%) and BSE Bankex (down 0.32%).

 

Nine of the 30 stocks on the Sensex closed in the positive. The chief gainers were Bajaj Auto (up 2.57%); Mahindra & Mahindra (up 2.20%); Hero MotoCorp (up 1.92%); Reliance Industries (up 1.53%) and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries (up 1.35%). The main losers were Hindustan Unilever (down 2.65%); BHEL (down 1.98%); GAIL India (down 1.67%); Jindal Steel (down 1.55%) and ONGC (down 1.44%).         

 

The top two A Group gainers on the BSE were—Satyam Computer Services (up 6.41%) and Bharat Forge (up 5.08%).

The top two A Group losers on the BSE were—Piramal Enterprises (down 5.68%) and Gitanjali Gems (down4.61%).

 

The top two B Group gainers on the BSE were—Next Mediaworks (up 20%) and Gokul Refoils (up 20%).

The top two B Group losers on the BSE were—Bio Green Papers (down 11.60%) and RFL International (down 10.22%).

 

Out of the 50 stocks listed on the Nifty, 17 stocks settled in the positive. The major gainers were M&M (up 2.18%); Bajaj Auto (up 1.96%); Hero MotoCorp (up 1.93%); RIL (up 1.58%) and IDFC (up 1.55%). The key losers were HUL (down 2.96%); BHEL (down 2.34%); Grasim Industries (down 2.22%) and HDFC (down 1.89%).

 

Markets in Asia settled higher on hopes of a fresh round of monetary stimulus by the US Federal Reserve at the end of its two-day meeting later today. Sentiments were also supported by a rise in Japanese machinery orders for the first time in three months.

 

The Shanghai Composite rose 0.39%; the Hang Seng climbed 0.80%; the Jakarta Composite gained 0.455; the KLSE Composite advanced 0.50%; the Nikkei 225 gained 0.59%; the Straits Times surged 0.75%; the Seoul Composite climbed 0.55% and the Taiwan Weighted surged 1%.

 

At the time of writing, two of the three key European indices were trading marginally up and the US stock futures were seen with minor gains.

 

Back home, foreign institutional investors were net buyers of shares totalling Rs1,309.88 crore on Tuesday whereas domestic institutional investors were net sellers of stocks amounting to Rs1,028.35 crore.

 

Private sector ship-builder ABG Shipyard today said it has bagged a Rs485 crore order to build a cadet training vessel for the Indian Navy. The vessel will be used to provide basic training to Naval cadets and trainees in activities such as disaster relief, search and rescue operations, the company said in a statement. The stock closed 1.20% higher at Rs375 on the NSE.

 

State-owned ONGC is set to undertake exploratory drilling work in three offshore oil and gas Blocks in Krishna-Godavari basin soon. Once all formalities are completed, the ONGC consortium will spend about Rs1,700 crore on developing these three blocks. The stock declined 1.44% to close at Rs259.90 on the NSE.

 

Two and three wheeler major TVS Motor on Wednesday said its market share in motorcycles segment is expected to expand by 2.5% with the launch of new bike in 125 cc segment. The company currently has 7% market share in motorcycles segment. TVS Motors settled 2.33% higher at Rs39.50 on the NSE.

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