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Important judgements of Supreme Courts in 2015 | Part 2



 

#1. Section 66A IT Act held unconstitutional 

Shreya Singhal vs. Union of India

To punish somebody because he uses a particular medium of  communication is itself discriminatory and falls foul of Article 14 in any case.

Summary:

Netizens had a good year with Supreme Court striking down Section 66A of Information Technology which was viewed as ‘draconian’ by many. The Apex court bench comprising of Justices J. Chelameswar and R.F. Nariman held that Section 66A arbitrarily, excessively and disproportionately invades the right of free speech and upsets the balance between such right and the reasonable restrictions that may be imposed on such right.”

Important observations:

  • Very basis of Section 66A- that online speech has given rise to new forms of crimes – is incorrect, and that Sections 66B to 67C and various Sections of the IPC are good enough to deal with all these crimes
  • Infringes the fundamental right to free speech and expression and is not saved by any of the eight subjects covered in Article 19(2)
  • Suffers from vagueness because unlike the offence created by Section 66 of the same Act,  none of the terms are even attempted to be defined and cannot be defined. The result  being that innocent persons  are  roped  in  as  well  as  those  who  are  not.
  • Rights under Articles 14 and 21 are breached  because there is no intelligible differentia between those who use the internet and those who use words or writing or other mediums of communication.

To punish somebody because he uses a particular medium of  communication is itself discriminatory and falls foul of Article 14 in any case.

  • Makes no distinction between mass dissemination and dissemination to one person
  • Does not require that such message should have a clear tendency to disrupt public order– a reasonable restriction on freedom of speech
  • For something to be defamatory, injury to reputation is a basic ingredient. Section 66A does not concern itself with injury to reputation. Something may be grossly offensive and may annoy or be inconvenient to somebody without at all affecting his reputation. Therefore it is clear that the Section is not aimed at defamatory statements at all.

 

#2. No compromise in Rape cases

State of MP vs. Madanlal

“Under no circumstances, a rape case can be compromised.”

Summary:

After a couple of High Courts allowed mediation to take place between the Rape Victim and the Accused, the Supreme Court in a strong worded judgment held that in a case of rape or attempt of rape, the conception of compromise under no circumstances can really be thought of.

The Supreme Court accordingly ruled out mediation in such cases.

Apex Court bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant observed “any kind of liberal approach or thought of mediation in this regard is thoroughly and completely sans legal permissibility.”

Observations:

  • These are crimes against the body of a woman which is her own temple.
  • These are offences which suffocate the breath of life and sully the reputation.  And reputation, needless to emphasise, is the richest jewel one can conceive of in life. No one would allow it to be extinguished.
  • When a human frame is defiled, the “purest treasure”, is lost.
  • Dignity of a woman is a part of her non-perishable and immortal self and no one should ever think of painting it in clay.
  • There cannot be a compromise or settlement as it would be against her honour which matters the most. It is sacrosanct.
  • Some of the appellate Judges have paved the path of unbelievable laconicity to deal with criminal appeals which, if we permit ourselves to say, ruptures the sense of justice and punctures the criminal justice dispensation system.

The concluding remarks:

“The woman’s right to bodily integrity stems from constitutional rights, human rights and not conservative notions of reputation, chastity, honour, dignity.Compromise in rape cases is prohibited by law. It is important for Supreme Court, and all other courts to premise their decisions on legal reasoning and not because they are kindly or charitably disposed towards women. Recent judgments of the courts make a compelling case for an urgent dialogue on the constitutional and human right to equality, rights of women and sexual violence, across the legal system.”

Published with inputs from Swapnil

Questions, suggestions and comments


  1. Profile photo of Udit Agarwal Udit Agarwal

    There can only be punitive actions in cases of physical abuse. Along with all the other forms of punishment, will an ex parte monetary payment to the victim be justified?
    Money not as compensation/donation/gift.

    1. Profile photo of Udit Agarwal Udit Agarwal

      To make myself clear, I’m against any sort of compromise in cases of rape.

  2. Profile photo of Ashutosh Pandey Ashutosh Pandey

    thank you CD……. better if an article on capital punishment…..

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