Lucknow: In the eye of a storm over arrest of a student for allegedly posting “objectionable” remark against him, SP leader Azam Khan Tuesday refused to comment on the Supreme Court scrapping the controversial provision of cyber law but accused the media of “supporting criminals”.
“Aap log aparadhiyon ki himayat kartey hain (you support criminals),” he said when asked by reporters to comment on the apex court’s judgement holding the provision as “unconstitutional”.
Khan was embroiled in the controversy after the male student was arrested in Bareilly on March 18 for allegedly misusing Section 66A of the IT Act by posting on Facebook “objectionable” comments against the senior Uttar Pradesh minister.
Section 66A (sending false and offensive messages through communication services) of the IT Act is sweeping in its powers – if convicted, a person can be sent to jail for upto three years for sending an e-mail or other electronic message that “causes annoyance or inconvenience”.
The SP leader had earlier told reporters that the Class XII student has made “objectionable comments” against him.
“Law is enforced with strictness and he has been arrested within 24 hours. Comments were made against me earlier also on Facebook,” he had said, justifying the police action.
A petition was filed before the Supreme Court in this regard alleging that its advisory was violated after which the apex court had asked Uttar Pradesh police to explain the circumstances leading to the boy’s arrest.
Terming liberty of thought and expression as “cardinal”, the apex court today said, “The public’s right to know is directly affected by Section 66A of the Information Technology Act.”
The boy, who bore the brunt of the controversial Section 66A and spent two days in jail, welcomed the judgement, saying the clause was being misused.
“I am happy that Section 66A has been scrapped but I had a very rough time when I was booked under the provision which entailed a jail term of three years. I was stressed and was made to spend two days in jail.
“I was also embarrassed about what I posted as I did it by mistake. I am still recovering from what happened and it will take some time for me to get completely normal on social media and other things,” he said.
His father, though relieved with the scrapping of the provision, said his son has suffered.
“All this has affected his studies, his mental stability and the family too,” he said.