The Indian cyber law is evolving at a dynamic pace.After the amendments made in year 2009 in the IT Act 2000 , there have been some important developments in cyberlaw, particularly in the last year which are important to recapitulate.
In Shreya Singhal vs UOI ,in a landmark ruling, the Supreme court of India struck down Section 66A of the IT Act,2000 as unconstitutional.This public interest litigation was filed to challenge the constitutionality of Section 66A of IT Act,2000 as being arbitrary,ambiguous and violative of fundamental right to free speech guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.The court held that Section 66A is clearly vague, ambiguous and is violative of right to freedom of speech and it takes within its sweep the speech that is innocent aswell.The court took the view that no part of it was severable and Section as a whole was struck down as unconstitutional .
In another landmark ruling, Anwar vs P.V Basheer , the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India clarified the law relating to production of electronic evidence .The court considered an appeal filed against an order wherein the High Court dismissed election petition holding that the petitioner failed to prove corrupt practices pleaded in petition and, therefore election could not be set aside under Section 100(1)(b) of Act.
Passing a landmark ruling on digital evidence, the court held in this case, that in case of electronic devices, such as CD, VCD, chip, when produced as digital evidence, the same shall be required to be accompanied by certificate in terms of Section 65B of Evidence Act at time of taking document. If that certificate is not produced, secondary evidence pertaining to electronic record, is inadmissible .
The court further held that that the person need only to state in the certificate that the same is to the best of his knowledge and belief but such a certificate must accompany the electronic record like computer printout, Compact Disc (CD), Video Compact Disc (VCD), pen drive, etc., pertaining to which a statement is sought to be given in evidence, when the same is produced in evidence.
As held by the Court,these safeguards are taken to ensure the ‘source and authenticity’, which are ‘the two hallmarks pertaining to electronic record sought to be used as evidence’.The court held that Sections 63 and 65 have no application in the case of secondary evidence by way of electronic record as it is wholly governed by Sections 65A and 65B. It thus overruled the statement of law on admissibility of secondary evidence pertaining to electronic record, as stated by this Court in Navjot Sandhu case .
The year was eventful from legal standpoint. There were other important cases before the Delhi High court such as a PIL by one KamleshVaswani, who sought blocking of all child pornographic materials from access on internet. It raised some important questions such as existing loopholes in the enforcement of laws relating to ban on child pornography in India. Government did filter and block few websites that contained such materials while ISPs deliberated on technical means to effectively block such content.This subject has been dealt with comprehensively by the book ‘Protection of Children on Internet’ , which received the Digital Empowerment Award for the year.
The year witnessed a strong debate on Net neutrality,as the nation discussed pros and cons of diluting net neutrality. Activists of free speech and entrepreneurs agitated that this platform is equal for all and introducing plans and arrangements wherein this salient aspect is compromised, will essentially alter the free space and unbiased medium that internet is. The year also saw the Draft Encryption policy that proposed to put stringent norms on the way people communicate on internet which was stalled at the outset by huge protests of internet activists and general public.
Thus, over all, 2015 was an important year in the development of cyberlaw in India which will carve further path to new developments this year!