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An achievement in the history of freedom of expression and freedom of speech

Sherya Singal

Shreya Singhal a  21-year-old law student from Delhi has won her struggle to fight against the injustice of freedom of expression and freedom of speech in India.

She had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Supreme Court calling Section 66(A) of the Information Technology (IT) Act unconstitutional on Thursdays in view of the two girls who were arrested for posting remarks about Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray’s funeral bringing Mumbai to a halt in their social media.

In reality the section was manipulated in desired way by the ruling government against anyone who stood  against them. Apart from that various cases had surfaced with innocent people being victimized of posting critical comments about social and political issues and political leaders on social networking sites.

The court said the section has to be erased from the law books as it has gone much beyond the reasonable restrictions put by the Constitution on freedom of speech. The Supreme Court said section 66A was vaguely worded and allowed its misuse by police. The court, however, allowed the government to block websites if their content had the potential to create communal disturbance, social disorder or affect India's relationship with other countries.

Even in Nepal the Electronic Transaction Act 2008 (ETA) section 47 is seen as a bigger hindrance for freedom of speech(FoS) and freedom of expression (FoE).

Publication of illegal materials in electronic form:
(1) If any person publishes or displays any material in the electronic media including computer, internet which are prohibited to publish or display by the prevailing law or which may be contrary to the public morality or decent behavior or any types of materials which may spread hate or jealousy against anyone or which may jeopardize the harmonious relations subsisting among the peoples of various castes, tribes and communities shall be liable to the punishment with the fine not exceeding One Hundred Thousand Rupees or with the imprisonment not

exceeding five years or with both.
(2) If any person commit an offence referred to in Sub-section (1) 
time to time he/she shall be liable to the punishment for each time with one and one half percent of the punishment of the previous punishment. 

FoE and FoS has become an exponential  part of every individual where social media has play an important role. FOE cannot be curbed in view of legal terms of marking criticisms or opinion or voices. Criminalization of FOE or FOS is not a question of legality but a question of interpretation and practice. And hence should not be curbed in any way possible. Censorship in any form or definition is not practical supporting core values of open and free internet. It should be preserved with better core values of awareness and better definition.

It has been well perceived that technology has grown globally and with the smart technology  the rules and regulation should also evolve accordingly. If not the rules and regulations are not updates as per the need then it certainly results in externalities where the public is bound to face the consequences and vice versa.
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