The media is full of news about the directions of Indian Supreme Court mandating that a senior police officer’s permission is required for arresting a person for posting objectionable contents on social media websites.
The crucial questions are has this direction of Supreme Court added something new and has it made any change to the existing cyber law of India? Unfortunately, the answer to both these questions is in negative.
As far as the first question is concerned, the department of information technology has already issued rules that prescribe this condition of permission of a senior police officer. As to the second question, nothing has changed except that the position as incorporated in the original cyber law of India has been restored vis-à-vis social media websites alone.
Originally, only a DSP was empowers to engage in search and arrest a person form public place. So there is nothing to feel happy about this development as nothing productive has been achieved till now.
The Supreme Court has observed that no person should be arrested for posting objectionable comments on social networking sites without taking prior permission from senior police officials. The court also observed that the State governments should ensure strict compliance of the Centre’s January 9 rules which said that a person should not be arrested without taking permission from senior police officials.
The present rules in this regard have recommended to States that as regard to arrest of any person in complaint registered under section 66A of the Information Technology Act, the concerned police officer of a police station may not arrest any person until she/he has obtained prior approval of such arrest from an officer, not below the rank of inspector general of police (IGP) in metropolitan cities or of an officer not below the rank of deputy commissioner of police (DCP) or superintendent of police (SP) at district level, as the case may be.
So in effect what have we achieved? We have been able to partly reverted back to the original position as was prescribed 13 years back. We have imposed the draconian cyber law of India upon us and our government is taking full advantage of this aspect.