Anil Thakraney: Decoding 66A. (And losing my head!)

By Anil Thakraney

 

I was watching Kapil Sibal battle with NDTV’s Barkha Dutt over Section 66A of the IT Act. Unfortunately, Barkha wasn’t able to nail the minister down, and that’s not her fault. Sibal is a seasoned lawyer and is in top form when it comes to debates on legalities. To me, it’s a no-brainer that this section needs to be completely re-written, and that making only a senior policeman in charge of slapping this law isn’t good enough. Simply because it’s too damn vague. And this vagueness and the recent arrests have already sent a chill down social media timelines, most tweets and updates seem to have lost their sting. And the diehards are busy opening up fake accounts to escape accountability.

 

The problem is the three key words in 66A. They are so broad-based, William Shakespeare would have found it impossible to decode them in terms of intended criminality. These words are Offensive, Annoyance and Inconvenience. So here’s what I did, assuming that the confused policeman would most likely do ditto to find some answers in terms of interpretation in law. I consulted the good ol’ Collins Thesaurus. Here’s what it says:

 

Annoyance: aggravation, anger, bedevilment, bother, displeasure, disturbance, exasperation, harassment, irritation, nuisance, provocation, trouble, vexation.

 

Offensive: abominable, abusive, annoying, detestable, disagreeable, discourteous, displeasing, disrespectful, embarrassing, impertinent, insolent, insulting, irritating, nasty, objectionable, odious, repellent, rude, uncivil, unmannerly, unpalatable, vile.

 

Inconvenience: annoyance, awkwardness, bother, difficulty, disadvantage, disruption, disturbance, drawback, fuss, hindrance, nuisance, trouble, uneasiness, upset, vexation.

 

If the policeman (who I don’t envy at all in this case) has to take a call on this, he’ll either go crazy, or we’ll all have to forget about taking any further part on the internet. Because anything even slightly naughty can easily fall under any of these definitions. This is so bloody annoying! Oops, oops!!

 

Ergo, our lawmakers need to put their thinking caps on. And re-write Section 66A in such a way that even a havaldar is able to interpret it without any difficulty. I am quite certain if Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar was alive today, he would have dealt with this in minutes. Sadly, we are stuck with the likes of Kapil Sibal. Great television debaters but not much else. (Hope the distinguished neta doesn’t charge me under 66A for this, er, inconvenience.)

 

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PS: Fabulous public service idea from students of a Miami school. You can donate your iPhone apps to charity through a digital donation box that’s been enabled in partnership with Apple. So much better than ‘gifting’ torn clothes, which we famously do back home. Also, please do share this idea with your bachchas, who might still be burning those idiotic crackers long after Diwali is done and dusted.

 

 

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