Friday, November 14, 2014

Repeal 66A



A tale of two First Amendments:

The US First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The Indian First Amendment of article 19 (Free speech) by Nehru & Co:  "(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence."

The US First Amendment bars Congress from passing any law restricting free speech. It contains a mere 45 words and has stood the test of time and protected free speech against all tyrants since it was made in 1791. Many US Congress members have tried to meddle with it or alter it but, fortunately, unsuccessfully. In contrast, the Indian First Amendment stands as proof of intolerance by Congress, Nehru & Co. The amendment was made by Nehru consequent to a very critical article by a Commie magazine that led to its ban which the SC had overturned. The restrictions laid down by it have led to even full censorship at various times, including the Emergency. This intolerance and trampling of free speech has taken a natural course to draconian laws like section 66A of the IT Act. The IT amendment that includes 66A was hurriedly passed in early 2009 without the slightest debate or opposition in our parliament. 66A is unacceptable in a democracy and there are quite a few PILs that have challenged it in the SC. Our courts, including SC, pass strictures on many issues from Ganga to Garbage but are slow on an issue like 66A which tramples upon free speech. Here’s a recent concerning Dr Harsh Vardhan of the BJP:

Dr HV’s case is a genuine one in which an imposter is peddling fake medicines under his name on a website. But why does the FIR have to be under 66A? Normal laws such as 420 or other similar laws are enough to act against the impersonator. This is the problem. Our politicians want “Sudden death” play instead of normal process of law for themselves. The reason for saying this is that I have no doubts whatsoever that 66A was brought in for no other reason than Congress Gandhis being ridiculed, caricatured and abused online. It is not to protect you or me but to protect the Gandhis, the political establishment and their Hammam.

One of the worst cases of the misuse of 66A was the Puducherry police acting on a complaint by “Little PC”, ie: Karti Chidambaram. Someone tweeted Little PC was corrupt or possessed excessive assets beyond means. All it took was one phone call from KC for the guy to be arrested in the middle of the night with no warrants, nothing:

After public outrage the man was released, probably on bail. That was in October 2012. Later that same year, two young women from Mumbai were assaulted and then arrested by the police for obnoxious comments about Bal Thackeray during the time of his funeral on Facebook. One of them was arrested for just “Liking” the post. All that the woman said was there should be no shutdown of Mumbai for BalT’s funeral. Now what exactly is so offensive about that? And even if it is offensive; so what? Are politicians and public figures such chickens that they cannot absorb some offensive comments? The woman just expressed her personal opinion and even if someone doesn’t like it or finds it offensive there is no cause for her arrest and harassment. Both women were sent to 14 days judicial custody but released quickly on bail. Such stupidity!

Following the frequent misuse of 66A there were petitions in the SC which ordered that no arrests should be made without prior approval by a senior police officer (of IG level?). That was in May 2013. Well, who gives a damn what the SC thinks or orders; certainly not the politicians or the police. This is what happened in October 2014:

The man in the above report spent 21 days in jail after being illegally arrested. As it is we have some of the most irresponsible and Goonda-type policemen in many states. And then our politicians arm them with draconian laws like 66A. Recently, a student was arrested after the HudHud cyclone for some comments in Guntur. He made a post stating he loved HudHud because it proved there was God and it happened and brought destruction to those who didn’t vote for YSR Congress. You arrest a student for this stupid comment? It may sound offensive or obnoxious but what exactly is wrong in making stupid comments? Our politicians make stupid comments every single hour. Sensible people would either laugh or ignore such silly comments but only the most stupid govts would have laws leading to the arrest of a person. This is how politicians misuse law and police waste their precious time on frivolous nonsense. 

What is the real test of defamation? Primarily, a defamatory act must be committed wilfully and with malice. In a case of mistaken identity TimesNow flashed the image of a wrong judge in a PF scam. There was a defamation case and the damage awarded was 100 crores. Maybe TimesNow did it repeatedly, even without malice, so a certain amount of damages would be reasonable but 100 Cr is certainly excessive. It is also possible that many who were not aware of the case would believe that the concerned judge would be seen as a “Criminal” by the public because of the Timesnow report. And that is the damage caused. The test is, whether actual damage has been caused. I often quote the famous case of Hustler Magazine’s Larry Flynt Vs Jerry Falwell:

Larry Flynt had an everyday target of offending of some public figure or the other. The ad his magazine carried lampoons a religious leader of his “first time” through incest. Falwell did go to court and the defamation case went right up to the US Supreme Court. The final court ruling was that people reading the horrible, offensive ad were well aware that it was a parody and no one would believe it to be true and that Flynt exercised his free speech rights to lampoon a public figure. The essence is that defamation must be “believable” with “malice” and must cause actual damage to a person in terms of reputation or other losses. If you look at Indian society, it’s the politicians and some other public figures that spew the most hatred, obnoxious and defamatory statements. In the real world it is Arvind Kejriwal who defamed Nitin Gadkari as the case showed. Not just AK, the entire media defamed Gadkari (as they did with Modi earlier and still continue to do). If the same conditions of 66A were applied to public utterances of politicians (including online by AK) and some media persons, most of them would have to cool their heels in jails almost every single week.

Much of the “reasonable restrictions” of free speech as legislated by our govts stems out of protecting religious beliefs and sentiments. The politicians have just made Gods of themselves. The MPs and MLAs enjoy complete free speech in parliament and are protected from prosecution for the most horrible statements and acts. Do they believe other Indians are idiots and do not deserve the same freedom? And if at all there are people who actually defame then there are laws to deal with it and, if need be, make the defamation laws stronger. No matter what law you pass you cannot stop people from lampooning public figures. They deserve the smallest latitude in terms of protection from being offended.

In August 2012 the GOI blocked about a dozen Twitter accounts. All the accounts were right-wing accounts that are opposed to the corrupt Congress. The Congress is the fountainhead of corruption that destroyed free speech with the first amendment, censored it further with Emergency, corrupted the media and has gone as far as silencing social media accounts. What should alarm us is that the list of Twitter accounts to be blocked were prepared by some media crooks. That’s how much free speech is valued by our media’s slaves too. And these same media crooks will whine about free speech when most of them have not raised their voice strongly against 66A.

One has to wonder how this law got passed without the slightest opposition. It’s hard to fathom but I have to estimate that the BJP “B” team of Congress which was then in charge at Delhi and in Parliament would have gladly sucked up to such an atrocious bill and its passage. Narendra Modi has been the most vilified and defamed politician for over a dozen years. If he had so chosen, hundreds of politicians and media criminals would have been facing defamation charges but Modi chose not to follow that path. 66A is a law meant for practice by the Taliban or the ISIS – Instant punishment. Now that Modi is in charge the GOI must seriously review this section and repeal 66A. We cannot brag about democracy and free speech with such stupid laws. 


40 comments :

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    1. Please dont turn this into a general message board. Please keep comments relevant to the topic of the post.

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  2. Ravinar, it is going to be a tough journey till 66A is repealed. Every shade of Indian has some holy book, god, person against which any criticism is deemed offensive and the perpetrator is slammed with 66A or worse. At the risk of a self-demeaning generalization, we Indians are not yet advanced enough to appreciate freedom-of-speech.
    Some of my thoughts in a related blog is at:
    http://oshantomon.blogspot.com/2010/06/sania-mirza-mfhusain-and-ajmal-kasab.html

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    1. The attached link is a longish one covering few other issues. The relevant section (regarding freedom of speech) is the paragraph regarding MFHusein and the associated links embedded in the paragraph.

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  3. 66A is like having the power to control CBI... Highly unlikely that any government may want to repeal it... At best they will try to make this law less stringent

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  4. Ravinar...This is a battle that calls for revolution. Logical appeal will fall on deaf ears. Namo is also a politician after all. He would feel shy of doing anything revolutionary. Although, Indian public has given him support as a person. He has to get things done through his fellow traveller politicians and the official machinery. These people are most comfortable with GOD like treatment and curbs on freedom of citizens in general so that they can remain in their Lutyens type comfort zone.

    I will be surprised, in fact shocked, if this will ever happen i.e. undoing the fetters put on citizen rights.

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  5. Repealing 66A will be like removing the first stone that will eventually bring down the whole structure of arrogant political power. Modi is perhaps the only politician who will have the courage and the desire to do so. The B team of the BJP notwithstanding, I believe he will make a serious attempt at it. But until he is sure of getting it passed in both houses, I doubt that he will make a move. Therefore, it is for people in the social media and at large to keep the subject alive by continuously reminding him of it.

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  6. However strong position Modi may be in Look Sabha, in Rajya Sabha he has to depend on D4, and few others. Winning a war with "friends" alone is passe, the need of the hour is to get the work "done" by hook or crook. Fortunately, in Modi, the nation has lot of belief.

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  7. Just to add one recent case happened in US regarding first amendment of US constitution. In a judgement US supreme court allowed prayers at government meetings

    http://english.alarabiya.net/en/News/2014/05/06/U-S-supreme-court-allows-prayer-at-government-meetings-.html

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  8. Irony same politicians / their stinky ass lickers journalists who go offensive on stupid tweets support defamed pictures of hindu gods by Muslim fellow on the name of freedom of speech. Dumb Sagrika & her asslicker Einstein made career by openly abusing MODI on the name of press freedom go arms up to defend stupid mullah / chancellor comments

    if we can control /bind these stinky ass lickers ..guesd there demand in politicians will go down ..that way politicians will be openly criticized for stupid 66a use/abuse. At present stinky ass lickers defend 24x7 theirs source of shit

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  9. “Little PC” - Karti Chidambaram. LOL

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    1. Should be called pc, the son of PC :D

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  10. Does anyone know what exactly did those girls post on Facebook at the time of BalT's funeral? Or is it that the media crooks suddenly turned into angels and told us exactly what the girls posted on Facebook. So what if it was offensive? Yeah, so what if The Santanic Verses offended Muslims? So what if The Polyester Prince offended the Ambanis? So what if El Sari Rojo offended the Gandhi parivar? Anyone for getting the ban on The Satanic Verses lifted? Come on, now freedom of expression is not for sheep.

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    1. Exactly Vivek. I second all the 'so what' you asked in your comment. I will recommend the link to the link of one Phillip Pullman here:
      http://www.deeshaa.org/2010/04/01/philip-pullman-on-being-offended-and-free-speech/

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  11. If any law is whimsically applied in one case and not applied in similar or even vastly worse case, it is 66A. It really turns India into a Banana Republic.

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  12. Ravi is absolutely right here. Only reason for 66A is Gandhi's were abused on SM and Modi was gaining popularity on the other hand. They saw SM might play major role in next elections. Not sure of others, but I started loving Modi after becoming active on SM. Modi's huge popularity is mostly becasue of SM.

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    1. 66A was brought in by Sibal for this very reason. It is no coincidence that he being a lawyer was given the law ministry as well as ministry of communications and IT.

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  13. Respectfully disagree with your views on Bala Saheb's death incident. That shutdown was voluntary not forced by Shiv Sainiks. and alos you can oppose and criticize a thing all the time but you should be sensitive when very popular man like him dies. Why to oppose that shutdown? Shiv Sena daily gives us 100-200 reasons to criticize. you should be rationalist and oppose "Andha-Sraddha" but should not oppose when a son is doing "pitra-karm" of his father. Everyone should be sensitive and wise.

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    1. Shutdown was Voluntary? Ru fuk1ng out of your MIND? Who the hell was that Thakre? He did nothing for people xpt beating up poor rikshwalas and doing hafta vasooli.

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    2. Oh yes it WAS VOLUNTARY. Thakre was one of the greatest Indians after Swami Vivekanand, Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Mahatama Nathu Ram Godse. What Thakre did for the people:
      1.He did not kill 3,000 Sikhs like Congies did in 84. He did not allow a single Sikh to be harmed in any way, when they were being mercilessly targeted and brutalised across the rest of the country.
      2. Thakre was instrumental in development of Hindutva ideology, and freeing this country of the Cong scourge.
      3.Thakre kept the flag of Hinduism and Hindutva flying high under most adverse cirmcumstance
      4.Thakre correctly pointed out that India was a de facto Islamic country, not a secular nation
      5.Thakre supported Kashmir Pandit community during their darkest hour
      6.Thakre gave the mantra of development to the nation. During the BJP-SS rule in Maha from 1995-99, around 50 flyovers were built by the government, the Bandra Worli Sea Link was started, Mumbai Pune Highway was constructed, Konkan Railway was taken built in the face of heavy criticism from environment junkies and assorted groups.
      7. Thakre gave no quarter to media goons. He used to frequently lampoon the media and called them 'boru bahaddurs'. He showed media their place. Samna has more credibilty than the rest of media put together.
      8. Thakre stood by Modi like a rock after the Godhra riots and declared his steadfast and unwavering support to the Gujarat CM during his darkest hour. Had Thakre not been there the NDA and BJP would have happily thrown Modi under the bus.

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    3. The most is not whether it was voluntary or not. The point was Govt should not have arrested due to this flimsy reason of hurt sentiments.

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    4. Dude there is a law that allows the government to act the way it did. You cannot blame the government, it exercised its own judgment and took action to ensure law and order was not disturbed. Also let us take what the media claims about the posts with more than a pinch of salt. The possibility that the posts may have been inflammatory cannot be ruled out. The media may not be telling you the truth about the posts. The fact that all those who expressed outrage at the time never went beyond that and challenging the law in court, goes to prove that all they wanted to hog the limelight for a few days.

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  14. There are countless archaic laws that needs to be removed / rewritten in Indian constitution..... in USA all senators are having law background, but in china technocrats are in position... back in India, all illiterates (Italian Bar girl, her son .... all have fake degree certificates).....

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  15. Fully agree that section 66A is hindrance to freedom of speech in India. If there is a special need for cyber crimes that endanger somebody like or seriously threaten someone's honor (posting secret pics of females taken with hidden cameras) or national security, then the govt can strengthen existing laws or amend section 66A limiting it drastically. In any case, people of India should have freedom to express their opinions without fear as long as they don't really harm others.

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  16. We need a web app or twitter app allowing 1 click 66A complaints so anyone can quote twitter and complain against @bdutt and others. Imagine police running around responding to millions of 66A complaints. It will bring the system down and make them realise they need to either scrap it or heavily amend it.

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  17. Ours is seriously a mad country, where Journalists oppose freedom of speech! Wonder when the socialist disease will finally leave our "intellectuals".

    Here is an interesting talk between Shashi Tharoor and the late Christopher Hitchens. Tharoor is supposedly educated and all...and yet has such silly views on FoS.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw3dDbc1BHE

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  18. 66A is truly Draconian and should be repealed ASAP!

    But Freedom Of Speech is not absolute. It is damaging Indian society very badly.

    It is misused for Consent Manufacturing against all Indian practices, both Hindu and Islamic.
    It is misused for unaccountable propagation of falsehoods.

    For once Nehru had done a good thing, the first amendment.

    It is unfortunate that many educated Indians fail to understand some basics.
    They keep comparing apples and oranges, not out of ignorance, but for convenience.

    USA was not just a unexploited land but a race without historical baggage.
    It had every opportunity to define and impose the system the way it wanted.
    Yet it struggled to achieve the so-called democracy.
    It passed first amendment in 1791 about free speech.
    But voting rights to blacks were given nearly 80 years later (1870)
    The actual full-pledged implementation of voting rights to blacks happened only 1965.
    By which time all Indians without discrimination participated in 3 general election (one or two in British India).

    We are a country vulnerable to polarization on any kind of division, caste, religion, region and language.
    We are unable to tolerate even differences in dialects and divide the people over it,
    Over and above intelligentsia and all kinds of Media are more than willing to co-operate with political establishments.

    Irresponsible talk either from media or individuals will only deepen our divisions.
    Freedom of Speech can wait, at least until, we are more mature to handle the differences.


    धीरे-धीरे रे मना, धीरे सब कुछ होय ।
    माली सींचे सौ घड़ा, ॠतु आए फल होय ॥

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    1. Then let us not kid ourselves and accept that we are NOT a democracy. Then let people from all states also have rights to self determination, because people associated and agreed to form a nation on the basis of the promised democracy.

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    3. Sorry that I could not make out which part of my comment concerns with we were democracy or not.
      Anyways, I agree with you though a bit differently. We rather did not understand the democracy neither by letter nor by spirit. 66A would not have happened if rulers understood spirit. People should not be complaining about 1st amendment if understood democracy either by letter or spirit. By letter democracy means "majority". You must respect majority opinion. Keep ranting because majority did not carry your view is not acceptable. Like the recent "first past the post" rant against Modi's victory.

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    4. Like it takes two to tango or taali dono hath se bajti hai. Both ruled and the rulers should have respect for each other's rights, then and only then can it be called a democracy. This is NOT the case in India.

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  19. Please remove the Youtube ad of Anjana Om Kashyap of Aaj Tak from the hallowed pages of your blog. This gives an impression to the simpletons like me that she is the only flag-bearer of ethical journalism in India

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  20. Section 66A is detrimental to the freedom of speech of Indians as Article 370 is detrimental to integrity of India with Jammu and Kashmir.

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  21. Off Topic: The anchor at TimesNow keeps saying "TheNationWantsToKnow" but he doesn't ask questions that I really want to know. Please start a blog/forum/poll titled "WhatTheNationReallyWantsToKnow" . For one, I really want to know why Tarun Tejpal is still out on bail.
    Another please set up interviews with media personnel where ordinary citizens can ask them questions about the questions they didn't ask or the stories they didn't follow.

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  22. God is love! :heart: Catholic blogwalking :-) http://emmanuel959180.blogspot.in/

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  23. sorry to go off topic but art of living center in lahore was burnt down & indian media sat silent..normally burka dutt is chummy with imran khan & you know bloody iyer has many friends there...but just like they ignore dying bheels and meghwals of tharparkar

    https://www.google.co.in/search?q=art+of+living+lahore+burned&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=ubuntu&channel=fs&gfe_rd=cr&ei=tndsVPPXLsODuASw0YHgDQ&gws_rd=ssl#channel=fs&q=%22art+of+living%22+%22lahore%22+%22burned%22

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  24. 66S should be used against these media presstitutes or there should be another law to shut these media presstitutes which is very urgent, This rampal episode, I have watched so many channels, They were so bad if BJP does they are damned if they didnt then also they are damned.
    They were saying why didnt you take action, as if use too much of forece and start killing people, if they would have done Then the same people whould have shouted from rooftops, now that for this they had to take time so that innocents were saved, now they started saying six people died and you did not put in any effort.
    Then this arnob was so bad, ask Sambit a question and then expects answers from the presstitute ajoy bose. When Sambit asked why sonia went to bukhari, arnob says we have already discussed. He was all on BJP and asks the CM to resign sitting in an arm chair giving all sorts of sermons, what sorts of diference is there from arnob and this rampal?
    I am sick of these presstitutes, peddling lies and no one gets arrested, but 66A is used to take innocents on flimsy grounds.
    Modiji please see that only Swacch Bharat happens when we even clean this media.
    May be I am off topic Ravinarji, but my blood was boiling, no one was ready to accept Haryana govt acted so nicely and got him arrested.
    Is there a 66A for the media presstitutes, who are reall responsilble for increasing the severity of 26/11 the way they were giving all the information and pakis using them and directing, and burkha dutt, giving the rioters details where it is peaceful and no poilice present? who are responsible?
    Some guidelines need to be put in place.

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  25. Ravinarji,
    I am looking forward about the way media presstitutes peddled in this rampal episode.

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    1. yeah, they are now desperately looking for some sex angle to exploit

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  26. Celebrities too want media under scanner --
    http://firstbiz.firstpost.com/corporate/ashton-kutcher-bats-for-uber-says-digging-up-dirt-on-journalists-no-wrong-109458.html

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