Picture Credit: indiatoday.in
INTRODUCTION The freedom of speech and expression occupies a prominent position in the hierarchy of liberty. It also promotes most other rights and allows them to flourish. The significance of the freedom of speech and expression has been reiterated by the Supreme Court of India in numerous judgments. One of the most recent ones is the celebrated judgment in the case of Shreya Singhal v Union Of India, wherein the section 66A of Information Technology Act, 2000 was declared unconstitutional by the apex court in 2015. It’s been more than 4 years since this section was declared unconstitutional, but the police in various states are still filing FIRs under this illegal provision. Apparently, it is still being used to haunt people.
WHAT IS 66A?
The Information Technology Act, 2000 was notified on October 17, 2000 following the Model
Law on E-commerce adopted by United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) in 1997.The main objective of this act is to carry out trustworthy and legal electronic, digital and online transactions and alleviate or reduce cyber crimes. The original Act did not contain section 66A and it was introduced by an amendment in 2009. Under this provision, any person who by means of a computer or communication device sends any information that is: 
1. grossly offensive;
2. false and meant for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience, danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred or ill will;
3. Meant to deceive or mislead the recipient about the origin of such messages, etc, shall be punishable with imprisonment up to three years and with fine.
The purpose behind the introduction of this section was to prohibit the misuse of information technology through social media and other mediums but it ended up excessively invading the right of free speech and expression.
66A WAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
After Shreya Singhal filed a PIL seeking amendment in the section 66A of Information
Technology Act, 2000 in 2019, it raised an avalanche nationwide after two girls were arrested for showing discontent towards the shutdown of Mumbai after the death of Bal Thakrey on social media. The Supreme Court found it to be violative of the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 (1) (a) and right to life under Article 21 of the constitution.The Supreme Court observed:
“Expressions such as “grossly offensive” or “menacing” are so vague that there is no manageable standard by which a person can be said to have committed an offence or not to have committed an offence.” (Para82ofthejudgment).
SECTION 66A - LEGAL ZOMBIE
The judgment came as relieving. It conveyed that Section 66A would not be able to used in future and even pending cases would be closed. But it is being flouted from police stations to trial courts. It still exists as a ‘Legal Zombie’. As per a pragmatic study by Internet Freedom Foundation, it was shown that fresh 66A cases are still being registered.