Indian court junks clause on 'offensive' Net messages

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's top court reaffirmed people's right to free speech in cyberspace Tuesday by striking down a provision that had called for imprisoning people who send "offensive" messages by computer or mobile phone.

The provision, known as Section 66A of the 2008 Information Technology Act, says sending such messages is a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the provision was "clearly vague" in not clarifying what should be construed as offensive.

It also said the provision violates people's freedom of speech and their right to know and share information.

The law student who filed the challenge in 2012, Shreya Singhal, applauded the court's rejection of a provision she said was "grossly offensive to our rights, our freedom of speech and expression."

"Today the Supreme Court has upheld that, they have supported our rights," Singhal said. "I am ecstatic."