Lucknow: SP leader Azam Khan today distanced himself from the recent Supreme Court verdict scrapping the controversial Section 66A of Information Technology Act, saying that it has got nothing to do with him. “The Supreme Court verdict is good…(but) it has got nothing to do with me,” he said in the state Assembly during a discussion on the home department budget.
The Parliamentary Affairs minister was referring to the arrest of a Class XI student from Bareilly for an “objectionable” post against him on Facebook on March 18. The apex court had on March 24 struck down Section 66A of IT Act saying it was “unconstitutional” and could have a “chilling effect” on freedom of speech and expression. In response to a question by Leader of Opposition Swami Prasad Maurya that youths should be pardoned for their follies, Khan retorted that freedom of expression does not allow anyone to snatch the freedom of people.
“The strictness we have shown (in these matters) has led to a marked dip in such posts on the social media…it has discouraged the wrong doers,” he said defending the arrest of the youth, who was later released on bail. “The Supreme Court verdict is not in connection with my case…it is regarding the cartoon of the Prime Minister…the media is, however, writing it differently and I will not comment on the credibility (of media),” Khan said. He refuted Maurya’s claim that the youth was a minor and added that both the youth and his parents have sought apology admitting what he did was wrong.
“But can a murder accused be forgiven if he apologises for the same,” he questioned. Citing the 2012 Delhi gang rape case in which one of the accused was a minor, the minister said there were people who, though minors, have a criminal mindset and now there is a debate on the issue in the country.
On the magnitude of danger that the social media can cause, Khan recalled that Muzaffarnagar was on fire because of this. A BJP leader was accused of posting inflammatory material on social media triggering the 2013 communal frenzy at Muzaffarnagar claiming 60 lives and displacing 40,000 people.