“Arresting people for voicing their opinion is fundamentally flawed,” says Shreya Singhal, whose petition against the controversial provision of the IT Act under which two girls from Palghar were arrested — for a Facebook post about Mumbai shutting down after Bal Thackeray’s death — was admitted by the Supreme Court Thursday.
The PIL urges the court to “impugn section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 as being violative of article 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution”.
Singhal, 21, was home with her mother when she first heard about the arrest of the Palghar girls. “My first reaction to the arrest of two young students my age in Maharashtra was that of shock and I was speaking to my mother about it and we decided that I should go ahead and file the petition,” she said.
Her mother, Manali Singhal, a Supreme Court lawyer, though wasn’t sure she would petition the court. “We did discuss that she should file a PIL if she feels so strongly about the issue but I wasn’t sure she will go ahead with it,” she says.
Singhal, granddaughter of Justice Sunanda Bhandare, has a Bachelors in Physics from the University of Bristol in the UK and is now preparing for law school. Singhal says she felt “a sense of camaraderie” with the two girls who were arrested just for voicing their opinion. “Article 19(1)(a) guarantees that if I praise or critique someone I can do that,” she says.
Singhal is economical when talking about the PIL as it is sub judice. “I feel like I am doing this for everyone, not just my generation. Most of us spend a lot of time on the internet and it’s not okay when the public starts feeling they can impugn on anyone’s right and opinion,” she says.
Her initiative has drawn much praise, particularly in the social media networks, but Singhal says this is just the beginning for her.