India’s apex court has directed state governments that they need the approval of a high ranking police officer before registering complaints for objectionable posts and comments on social networking platforms. [Source]
The Supreme Court bench of justice B S Chauhan and Dipak Misra ordered that state governments have to ensure compliance with the guidelines before making any arrest.
Earlier, Central government had issued guidelines about approval from a high ranking police officer for registering any complaint pertaining to objectionable comments on social networking sites.
The bench refused to pass an interim order for blanket ban on the arrest of a person for posting objectionable comments on social networks.The Bench observed that it could not refrain states from making any such arrest as operation of Section 66A had not been stayed and the apex court is still examining its constitutional validity.
The court also emphasized strict compliance of center’s guidelines – which entails that a person should not be arrested without taking permission from police officials of the rank of IGP or DCP or SP.
The center had issued guidelines to states in January this year after Mumbai police arrested two girls for protesting against a statewide Bandh on their Facebook wall. The girls were arrested after one of them posted a message on Facebook following Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s death. The other girl had liked the post.
Before that, the Mumbai police arrested two cabin crew members – Mayank Mohan Sharma and KVJ Rao of Air India in May 2012 for allegedly sharing lewd jokes about politicians, making derogatory comments against the Prime Minister and insulting the national flag through their Facebook posts.
Arbitrary arrests made by the police came under widespread criticism.