Congress lashes out at Bharatiya Janata Party over SC order on Section 66A
Congress on Tuesday hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over the Supreme Court order on Section 66A of the IT Act noting that Arun Jaitley who had dubbed the law as “online emergency” while in opposition, had defended it when the BJP came to power.
AICC Media department in charge Randip Surjewala recalled the contrasting positions taken by Jaitley, contending that the Modi government had said in an affidavit in Supreme Court that Section 66A was necessary to regulate the use of cyberspace.
“Congress has always been the champion and torch bearer of freedom of expression, democratic dissent and right to criticize”, Surjewala said in a statement.
“We, however, are deeply conscious of the fact that one person’s individual liberty of expression cannot unilaterally infringe upon another person’s liberty”, Surjewala said noting that section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 was enacted to prevent online abuse and hounding of groups and individuals.
At the AICC briefing, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi dismissed suggestions that the Supreme Court decision setting aside Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 was a snub to it as the law was enacted during UPA rule.
“To say mud or egg on our face due to the order is completely wrong”, Singhvi said after the apex court order aimed at preventing authoritarian misuse by authorities to kill dissent in online space.
In an apparent attack on the BJP, he said that parties should refrain from doing “cheap politics” over the issue.
Kapil Sibal, who was Telecom as also Law Minister during the UPA rule, said, “When the law began to be misused, we expressed deep concern and because of us, there was an advisory put in place that unless the Superintendent of Police decides, an arrest will not take place”, he said.
Surjewala said the law was also enacted to check propagation of obscene/incorrigibly false information with the intent to create social divide and unrest and deter unbridled defamation in cyberspace.
“This Act came into effect in 2008 when social media was yet evolving….We believe that onus lies on the Government to re-examine the issue threadbare and strike an appropriate balance by upholding freedom of expression, democratic dissent and right to criticize on one hand and prevent abuse/hounding of groups/individuals through obscene/incorrigibly false information and deter unbridled defamation in cyberspace.”, he added.