New Delhi: The arrest of a Kerala youth for posting on social media comments critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi had its echo in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday with a CPI-M member asking the government not to use the "draconian" Section 66A of the IT Act as a weapon.
Under Section 66A of the IT Act, sending offensive or menacing messages through electronic communication service and sending false messages to cheat, mislead or deceive people or to cause annoyance to them is punishable. The maximum punishment is three years of imprisonment with a fine.
A youth Rajeesh from Allanchery, stated to be member of CPI(M) youth wing DYFI, was arrested on Tuesday in Kerala for posting "derogatory" remarks against Modi on Facebook.
Raising the matter during Zero Hour, P Rajeeve (CPI-M) said action was taken against the youth under section 66A of the IT Act.
He said earlier too the House has debated this section and then Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley had supported him on the issue and the UPA government had then promised to reconsider it but "this government is following the same path".
"Reconsider 66A, which is a draconian rule, which is ultra vires to the Constitution and against Freedom of Speech and Expression...Do not use this as a weapon against innocent youths" who express their views openly, he said.
Rajeeve also pointed out that earlier also an engineering student was arrested for criticising the Prime Minister on Facebook.
Noting that while every newspaper and television channel has the right to criticise the Prime Minister and the government, this draconian IT rule goes beyond Constitutional provisions and makes even a critical post a crime.
A number of Opposition members associated themselves with Rajeeve.
Renuka Chowdhary (Cong) said two television channels in Telangana have been "arbitrarily shut down for last six weeks" as they were critical of the state government.
TRS member K Keshav Rao strongly objected to Chowdhary`s remarks leading to a war of words between the two for quite sometime. TRS has a government in Telangana.