Jail bid over offensive texts axed

India’s top court has backed people’s right to free speech in cyberspace by overturning a legal provision that called for imprisoning people who send “offensive” messages by computer or mobile phone.

The provision, known as Section 66A of the 2008 Information Technology Act, had made sending such messages a crime punishable by up to three years in prison.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

In its ruling, the Supreme Court said the provision was “clearly vague” in not clarifying what should be construed as offensive.

It also said the provision violates people’s freedom of speech and their right to share information.

In deeming provision unconstitutional, the judges said: “The public’s right to know is directly affected.”