Abolition of Section 66A: Palghar girl 'likes' SC verdict

Rinu Shrinivasan, the Palghar girl who was charged under Section 66A for liking her friend’s Facebook post on Bal Thackeray’s death, rejoices at the Supreme Court’s decision

Rinu Shrinivasan is all smiles, after hearing that the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the IT Act. This is the same provision under which Rinu, and her friend, Shaheen Dhada, had been arrested in 2012 regarding a Facebook post on Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray’s death.

Rinu Shrinivasan with her parents in Ahmedabad yesterday. Rinu and her friend, Shaheen Dhada, were arrested in 2012 for the latter’s Facebook post questioning Mumbai’s shutdown after Bal Thackeray’s death. Rinu had ‘liked’ the post. Pic/PTI
Rinu Shrinivasan with her parents in Ahmedabad yesterday. Rinu and her friend, Shaheen Dhada, were arrested in 2012 for the latter’s Facebook post questioning Mumbai’s shutdown after Bal Thackeray’s death. Rinu had ‘liked’ the post. Pic/PTI

After Thackeray died on November 17, Shaheen had put up a Facebook post questioning the shutdown in the city. Rinu had ‘liked’ the post. Little did they know that all hell would break loose at these innocuous actions.

A local Shiv Sena leader complained to the police, and Palghar police booked the two girls under Section 66A of the IT Act for their allegedly ‘offensive’ post. “I am happy Section 66A has been junked. I was wrongly arrested and also harassed. Nobody in my family had seen the other side of a police gate.

People targeted my friend and me,” said the 24-year-old, who completed her BSc and is now a professional singer and works with the music industry in Ahmedabad. She stressed that the section was against freedom of speech and expression.

“We respect Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray and his contribution. Shaheen and I never meant to hurt anyone,” Rinu said. Her father recalled the horror of seeing his college-going daughter arrested by the cops. “This was not the first incident.

Thousands of cases are registered in various parts of India. The government should make laws that state that the incident should be verified and only then should proper action be taken. It was a really difficult time for us. We thank the Supreme Court for their action,” he told this paper.

Rinu’s friend, Shaheen, has also completed her BSc. She has shifted to Bengaluru after marriage. Her uncle, Dr A G Dhada, said, “When Bal Thackeray died on that day, Shiv Sainiks in Palghar forcefully closed down all shops. Shaheen only wanted to say through this post that people should shut their shops out of respect and not out of fear of Shiv Sainiks.

There was nothing wrong in what she wrote,” said her uncle, whose clinic was also vandalised for which he claimed he has not received any compensation. Sudhir Gupta, the lawyer who represented the two girls, said, “Finally the Supreme Court has taken the right action and struck down Section 66A. I am really thankful to the apex court because freedom of speech still exists and the common man will not face any problem.”

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