Shreya Singhal Biography
Shreya Singhal is a 21 year old Delhi student, who has a degree in physics and astrophysics from the University of Bristol. Singhal comes from a family of lawyers; Manali Singhal her mother is a lawyer and her grandparents are Justice Sunanda Bhandare and Murli Bhandare who after serving a long career as a senior advocate is now the Governor of Odisha.
A regular user of social networking sites, Facebook and Twitter Shreya has been in the news recently because she asked the Supreme Court to review its laws under which two young women from Maharashtra were arrested for their Facebook posts. The Indian Government has now made changes in its cyber law, making it harder for citizens to be arrested for online activity, considered offensive. After the recent arrests were a cause of severe criticism from online activists and the media. Singhal who is in the process of applying to law schools around the country, is known to be very vocal about her feelings and believes that if everyone stays quiet about important issues, we will soon have a mute society.
Singhal was quoted telling the media “People express their views on television etc also but they are never arrested. Then why should Internet be any different? It is just another public platform. I feel that the law is being misused for the arrest of the people who express their views, and criticism.” Shreya has filed a petition against section 66 (A) of the Information and Technology Act (IT). The Chief Justice of India, Altamas Kabir has welcomed the petition and wondered why no one so far has approached the Supreme Court about it. Section 66 (A) of IT Act deals with spreading hatred through electronic messages, but because of the vagueness in language, it has been criticized, since is very easy to misuse. The law states a jail term for three years, making it an offence to “send, by means of a computer resource or communication device, any information which is grossly offensive, menacing, causes annoyance or hatred.”
In her petition against Section 66 (A), Shreya refers to the arrests of two women in Mahrashtra who has posted content on the Mumbai shutdown post the death of Shiv Sena Chief Bal Thackeray. The case against them was filed by a Shiv Sena leader and was the cause of immense outrage among net users and the media who believed that the charges against the women were exaggerated. Singhal also refers to the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and a professor in West Bengal who posted cartoons on West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Facebook.
Shreya Singhal is an only child who studied at the Vasant Valley school in Delhi and who is spending a gap year in Delhi, deciding on applying to law colleges in Indian and the US and who took up this petition in the meanwhile. She hopes on a positive outcome and has the support of her mother Manali, who is a Supreme Court lawyer.