Earlier in February, the Delhi High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation seeking regulation and censorship of online platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. In our previous post, we applauded the Court for letting us Netflix and Chill but noted that the judgement contained an erroneous reference to the infamous legal zombie - Section 66A of the IT Act.
But wait, how did the legal zombie rise from the dead again?
It seems that while recording the submissions made by MeitY, an inadvertent reference to Section 66A crept into the Court’s judgement. Before the Court, MeitY adopted a progressive stance and submitted that existing provisions under the IT Act were sufficient to deal with illegal content on online platforms. However, it looks like Section 66A was inadvertently mentioned as one of the tools available with law enforcement agencies for punishing people who post offensive content. Unfortunately, the Court recorded this submission in the judgement without noting that Section 66A had been declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2015.
Leave no tombstone unturned
We first sent a letter to MeitY on 20 February 2019 to get the inadvertent reference to Section 66A removed. Since we did not know if there was anything being done on the Government’s end, we decided to file an application for modification ourselves on 12 March 2019 to avoid any further delay. The application was listed for hearing today and we were represented by our fantastic counsel, Sanjana Srikumar. At the hearing, we learnt that the Government had filed a similar application on 11 March 2019 which had been disposed off the next day. Our application was also disposed off according to the same terms and the Court agreed to remove the reference to Section 66A. We thank the Delhi High Court for promptly fixing this error and defending a free and open internet!
1. Scanned Copy of Application for Modification/Clarification filed by IFF [link]
2. Copy of the letter sent by IFF to MeitY on 20.02.2019 [link]