The Karnataka High Court has directed two police officers to pay a cost of Rs 10,000 each for registering a First Information Report (FIR) under section 66 (A) of the Information Technology Act, which has been struck down by the Supreme Court.
Justice PS Dinesh Kumar, directed Assistant Sub Inspector, M Somanna and Police Inspector, Ravi Patil, to pay the cost with the Registrar General of High Court, within four weeks.
The court said, "This is a case in which police have initiated criminal proceedings invoking provisions of law which is not in statute book. Police have initially recorded the complaint as NCR and for reasons best known the very same officer has registered FIR after one week. This is nothing but a clear abuse of process of law and harassment to the citizen."
Sharada DR had approached the court seeking to quash the FIR and the proceedings registered at the Srirampura police station on 25 April 2019.
Advocate M Aruna Shyam appearing for the petitioner had argued that police have taken up the investigation for the offence which has been struck down by the Supreme Court.
The court directed both the officers to file their personal affidavits. In which they tendered unconditional apology and said that the mistake would not be repeated in future. The court while allowing the petition directed the Registrar General to report the receipt of the amount to the court.
Last year, the Supreme Court had issued notice on a PIL which brought to the attention of the Court the continued use of Section 66A IT Act by police, despite the provision being struck down in the 2015 Shreya Singhal decision.
Taking note of the seriousness of the submissions, the bench comprising Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran asserted that the concerned officials will be arrested if its order scrapping the provision has been violated.
Section 66A had been dubbed as "draconian" for it allowed the arrest of several innocent persons, igniting a public outcry for its scrapping.
This had led to the Supreme Court striking it down as unconstitutional in March, 2015 in Shreya Singhal v Union of India. The court had ruled that the provision violated freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and that it did not fall under the reason.
(Published in an arrangement with LiveLaw)