The Allahabad High Court recently canceled a First Information Report registered under Section 66A of the Information Technology (Amendment) Act 2008 while relying on Shreya Singhal V. Union of India, wherein the Supreme Court had declared provisions under Section 66A to be ultra vires.
While hearing the matter, the High Court also pulled up the police officials stating that "We are amazed that despite section 66-A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 having being declared ultra vires by the Apex Court in Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India, (2015) 5 SCC 1 yet F.I.Rs are being registered in our state under the said provision" Prior to being struck down as being unconstitutional in 2015, the former section 66A of the IT Act created an offense against people who used the internet to send information that inter otherwise, annoys or causes inconvenience to others.
The provision was declared ultra vires the Constitution of India in Shreya Singhal's case for being indistinct and thereby affecting the freedom of speech and expression. On being faced with yet another F.I.R mentioning this Section, the Allahabad High Court Bench of Justices Manoj Misra and Anil Kumar-IX said, We are back on square one wherein the instant FIR has been registered under section 66-A of the I.T. Act, 2000. Prima facie the action discloses complete disregard of the Hon'ble Apex Court. We could have summoned the senior police officials but refrain from doing so in view of the current pandemic." As such, the Court ordered that the investigation and arrest of the petitioner were to remain stayed till the next date of hearing. The investigating officer was directed to be physically present along with records and explanations. Accordingly, the officer appeared at the next hearing and filed an affidavit admitting that except for the offense punishable under section 66A of the IT Act, no other offense is declared against the petitioner. In view of the same, the plea to dismiss the FIR was allowed. "As in Shreya Singhal Vs. Union of India, (2015) 5 SCC 1, Section 66A of the I.T. Act has been declined ultra vires, the impugned first information report is liable to be quashed and is hereby quashed", reads the order.