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Delhi High Court directs MHA, Ministry of Law & Justice to decide on plea seeking removal of scrapped sections from statute books


New Delhi Sept 22(ILNS): The Delhi High Court asked the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Law and Justice, to decide the representation by a lawyer alleging that people are still being booked by the police officials under scrapped legal provisions.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N Patel and Justice Amit Bansal was hearing the plea by Advocate Anshul Bajaj seeking removal of unconstitutional sections from the statute books.

The Bench, while disposing of the petition, asked the concerned authorities to decide the representation made by Bajaj on August 25, 2021. “The decision will be taken by the concerned authorities in accordance with law, rules, regulations and government policies applicable to facts of the case, as early as possible and practicable,” said the Bench.

The plea points out various provisions that have been struck down by the Apex Court, including Section 303 of the Indian Penal Code that laid down punishment for murder by life-convict, Section 377 of IPC that criminalised ‘unnatural sex’, Section 497 of IPC wherein punishment for adultery was prescribed, and Section 66A of the Information Technology Act which made sending of offensive messages or menacing information using a computer resource as a punishable offence.

Relying on a news report published in ‘The Print’ on July 5, 2021, the plea claims that the defunct IT provision has been continued to be in use not only by police officials, but also in various trial courts across the nation, which have even went ahead to frame charges under the scrapped provision.

The plea further points out that a petition was filed before Apex Court by NGO People’s Union for Civil Liberties alleging that thousands of cases have been registered under the scrapped Section 66A of IT Act, even after six years of it being declared unconstitutional. The Apex Court termed the incidents of continuous prosecution of people under unconstitutional IT provision as “shocking” and “terrible”.

The plea highlights that a representation was made by the petitioner on August 25, 2021, before the Ministry of Home Affairs, requesting for removal of scrapped provisions from statute books, but no action has been taken by the concerned authorities yet.

In light of the above, the plea, in addition to removal of the unconstitutional sections from the statute, also seeks availability of the relevant amended criminal law books/bare acts and the Judgments of the Apex Court and different State High Courts, so as to publicize the obligations & responsibilities of police officers to increase awareness about different laws and sections to police staff and complainants who come to police stations.

The plea reads, “It is well-settled law that every Judgement/Order/ Direction of the Supreme Court is the Law of the land, one cannot say that it is binding on courts but not on police or governments. However, there are several Criminal Law sections that were struck down by the Supreme Court but continued to be booked/use by the police officials.”/ILNS/KR/SNG


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