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Section 66-A, Information Technology Act, 2000: Cases

Posted by Snehashish Ghosh at Dec 03, 2012 01:15 PM |
In this blog post Snehashish Ghosh summarizes the facts of a few cases where Section 66-A, Information Technology Act, 2000, has been mentioned or discussed.

There has been numerous instances application of the Section 66-A, Information Technology Act, 2000 (“ITA”) in the lower courts. Currently, there are six High Court decisions, in which the section has been mentioned or discussed. In this blog post, I will be summarizing facts of a few cases insofar as they can be gathered from the orders of the Court and are pertinent to the application of 66-A, ITA.  

 Sajeesh Krishnan v. State of Kerala (Kerala High Court, Decided on June 5, 2012)

 Petition before High Court for release of passport seized by investigating agency during arrest

 In the case of Sajeesh Krishnan v. State of Kerala (Decided on June 5, 2012), a petition was filed before the Kerala High Court for release of passport seized at the time of arrest from the custody of the investigating agency. The Court accordingly passed an order for release of the passport of the petitioner.

The Court, while deciding the case, briefly mentioned the facts of the case which were relevant to the petition. It stated that the “gist of the accusation is that the accused pursuant to a criminal conspiracy hatched by them made attempts to extort money by black mailing a Minister of the State and for that purpose they have forged some CD as if it contained statements purported to have been made by the Minister.” The Court also noted the provisions under which the accused was charged. They are Sections 66-A(b) and 66D of the Information Technology Act, 2000 along with a  host of sections under the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (120B – Criminal Conspiracy, 419 – Cheating by personation, 511- Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment, 420 – Cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, 468 – Forgery for purpose of cheating, 469 – Forgery for purpose of harming and 201 – Causing disappearance of evidence of offence, or giving false information to screen offender read with 34 of Indian Penal Code, 1860)

Nikhil Chacko Sam v. State of Kerala (Kerala High Court, Decided on July 9, 2012)

Order of the Kerala High Court on issuing of the summons to the petitioner

 In another case, the Kerala High Court while passing an order with respect to summons issued to the accused, also mentioned the charge sheet laid by the police against the accused in its order. The accused was charged under section 66-A, ITA. The brief facts which can be extracted from the order of the Court read: “that the complainant and the accused (petitioner) were together at Chennai. It is stated that on 04.09.2009, the petitioner has transmitted photos of the de facto complainant and another person depicting them in bad light through internet and thus the petitioner has committed the offence as mentioned above.”

 J.R. Gangwani and Another v. State of Haryana and Others (Punjab and Haryana High Court, Decided on October 15, 2012)

 Petition for quashing of criminal proceedings under section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973

 In the Punjab and Haryana High Court, an application for quashing of criminal proceeding draws attention to a complaint which was filed under Section 66-A(c). This complaint was filed under Section 66-A(c) on the ground of sending e-mails under assumed e-mail addresses to customers of the Company which contained material which maligned the name of the Company which was to be sold as per the orders of the Company Law Board. The Complainant in the case received the e-mails which were redirected from the customers. According to the accused and the petitioner in the current hearing, the e-mail was not directed to the complainant or the company as  is required under Section 66-A (c).

The High Court held that, “the petitioners are sending these messages to the purchasers of cranes from the company and those purchasers cannot be considered to be the possible buyers of the company. Sending of such e-mails, therefore, is not promoting the sale of the company which is the purpose of the advertisement given in the Economic Times. Such advertisements are, therefore, for the purpose of causing annoyance or inconvenience to the company or to deceive or mislead the addressee about the origin of such messages. These facts, therefore, clearly bring the acts of the petitioners within the purview of section 66A(c) of the Act.”

Mohammad Amjad v. Sharad Sagar Singh and Ors. (Criminal Revision no. 72/2011 filed before the Court of Sh. Vinay Kumar Khana Additional Sessions Judge – 04 South East: Saket Courts Delhi)

 Revision petition against the order of the metropolitan magistrate

 In a revision petition came up before the Additional Sessions Judge on the grounds that the metropolitan magistrate has dismissed a criminal complaint under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code without discussing the ingredients of section 295-A, IPC and 66-A, IT Act.

In this case, the judge observed that, “...section 66A of Information Technology Act (IT Act) does not refer at all to any 'group' or 'class' of people. The only requirement of Section 66A IT Act is that the message which is communicated is grossly offensive in nature or has menacing character.” He also observed that the previous order “not at all considered the allegations from this angle and the applicability of Section 66A Information Technology Act, 2000 to the factual matrix of the instant case.”