Common Cause vs. Union of India [W.P.(C) No. 21 of 2013]

This writ petition was filed by Common Cause (a registered society)under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, challenging the constitutional validity of Articles 66A, 69A and 80 of the Information Technology Act, for the enforcement of Fundamental Rights under Articles 14, 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India.

Several cases have brought into limelight, the abuse of vague and unambiguous provisions of the IT Act. It is contended that the restrictions put up by Section 66A of the IT Act are violative of Article 14 since they restrict free online speech, and violative of Article 19 as the restrictions on speech causing mere ‘annoyance’ often go beyond the ambit of reasonable restrictions stipulated under Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. Vague, arbitrary and constitutionally undefined terms, such as ‘grossly offensive’, ‘danger’ and ‘annoyance’, seen under Section 66A, invite blatant prejudices of Fundamental Rights.

Further, Section 69A of the IT Act is violative of Articles 14, 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India as it neither provides a redressal machinery after blocking of online information of an entity, nor any provisions for unblocking them. The process of blocking is entirely secret, and fails to meet constitutional safeguards of natural justice.

Section 80 of Act is similarly violative of Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Indian Constitution, as it confers unbridled powers to police authorities to arrest any person suspected of committing a crime under the IT Act, without warrant.

In light of the circumstances, the petitioner, by means of this PIL, prays to the Court:

  • To declare Section 66A, 69A and 80 of the IT Act as violative of Articles 14, 19 & 21 of the Constitution of India and hence unconstitutional

  • To pass such other or further order which this Hon’ble Court may deem fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the present case.

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