An NGO, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), had filed a plea in the apex court alleging that police in several states are registering cases under the Act.
The SC in March 2015 had struck down the Section that made posting offensive comments online a crime punishable by jail.
The court also took note of the Centre’s plea that it had repeatedly issued directives to the states about nullity of the Act, but maintained that “ultimately police is a state subject.”
However, SC bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai said that registration of cases under the quashed section cannot continue. It asked the states, UTs and Registrar Generals of High Courts to file response in four weeks.
On July 5, the Supreme Court had expressed shock and dismay over police continuing to register cases under section 66A despite it being quashed six years ago.
PUCL had pointed out that states have registered thousands of cases post-judgment and that the Centre needed to step in for immediate withdrawal of these cases.
The NGO furnished details of cases registered by several states after the Secton was annulled. Maharashtra had registered 381 cases, UP 245 and Rajasthan 192 after March 2015, it said.
Justice Nariman, who had authored the March 24, 2015 judgment said, “What is going on is terrible and distressing. How could the provision be invoked by police even six years after the Supreme Court had struck it down?”
The Centre informed the court that between February-May 2019, as many as 21 states and UTs have responded to the Centre, intimating that the police have been directed not to register cases under the Section.