In March this year, when Supreme Court scrapped Section 66A, the draconian law which enabled police to arrest anyone for posting content online, a new hope of a free India was envisioned by free thinkers. We had assumed that India will now become a country where expression of thoughts and different point of views are accepted and appreciated.
But what if a person becomes a target for defamatory content and malicious campaigns, even if he is innocent? Considering the viral nature of social media, several people have been suffering from this unnecessary evil.
In a new twist to the Indian netizens’s freedom of speech, Supreme Court has asked the Government to formulate stricter rules and regulations in order to control malicious campaigns and defamatory content on social media.
A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant said, “Section 66A was quashed because it was not properly drafted and was vague. We can ask Parliament to bring a new law. We have earlier also suggested Parliament to enact a law on other issues and we can suggest it to pass a legislation on this issue also,”
Senior advocate L Nageswara Rao informed the Supreme Court that a malicious and defamatory message is being circulated against him, wherein it has been mentioned that he is involved in a case of Section 376 (IPC); this IPC is used in cases of rape.
As he is not a regular user of WhatsApp, he was not even aware of this message.
When secretary of Supreme Court Bar Association informed him, and after he received several calls from his friends and family, he realized the damage.
Senior advocate K Parasaran also shared his story wherein false and malicious campaign was initiated against him on social media, and he couldn’t do anything to stop it.
Representing Tamil Nadu Govt, Advocate Rao pleaded strongly that defamation laws involving social media and Internet should be retained to protect people like them, who are easy targets.
The Observation By Supreme Court
The court has agreed that bad elements of the society cannot be given a free hand to post and share any false information about someone else, with an aim to defame the person.
In March, while announcing the scrapping of Section 66A, the court had observed, “We make it clear that there is an intelligible differentia between speech on the internet and other mediums of communication for which separate offences can certainly be created by legislation,”
After this recent incident concerning Advocate Rao, Supreme Court bench has clearly said that parliament needs to come out with new laws, in order to control this menace.
Although freedom of speech and expression is an integral part of our identity as an Indian, we cannot allow hate mongers and trolls to misuse this liberty and defame any person.