A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir, however, refused the petitioner's plea that no coercive action should be taken by the government authorities against people for posting such messages on websites during pendency of the case.
The court posted the matter for further hearing tomorrow.
While agreeing to hear the case, the bench said it was considering to take suo motu cognisance of recent incidents of arrest of people and wondered why nobody had so far challenged the particular provision of the IT Act.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation petition filed by Delhi student Shreya Singhal, who contended that "the phraseology of Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000 is so wide and vague and incapable of being judged on objective standards, that it is susceptible to wanton abuse and hence falls foul of Article 14, 19 (1)(a) and Article 21 of the Constitution."
She submitted that "unless there is judicial sanction as a prerequisite to the setting into motion the criminal law with respect to freedom of speech and expression, the law as it stands, is highly susceptible to abuse and for muzzling free speech in the country."
The arrests which have been referred to by Shreya in her petition include that of a 21-year-old girl for questioning on Facebook the shutdown in Mumbai after Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray's death, which was 'liked' and shared by her friend, who was also arrested.
Meanwhile, the government today issued guidelines that state approval from an officer of DCP level at rural areas and IG level in metros will have to be sought before registering complaints under section 66A of the IT Act.
Shreya also referred to an April 2012 incident, when a professor of chemistry from Jadavpur University in West Bengal, Ambikesh Mahapatra, was arrested for posting a cartoon concerning a political figure (Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee) on social networking sites.
She also referred to the arrest of businessman Ravi Srinivasan in October 2012 by the Puducherry Police for having made a allegation on twitter against a politician from Tamil Nadu as well as the May 2012 arrests of Air India employees V Jaganatharao and Mayank Sharma by the Mumbai Police for posting contents on Facebook and Orkut against a trade union leader and some politicians.
She submitted in her plea that "it would amount to little consolation to say that the right to free speech of a citizen will eventually be vindicated at the end of an extended legal proceeding."
"Hence, it is submitted that the protection of the fundamental right to free speech necessitates the existence of a safety walls at the very threshold of setting the criminal law into motion," she has said.
Shreya in her plea has also sought issue of guidelines, by the apex court, to "reconcile section 41 and 156 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Code with Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution" and that offences under the Indian penal Code and any other legislation, if they involve the freedom of speech and expression, be treated as a non-cognisable offence for the purposes of Section 41 and Section 156 (1).
Section 41 of the CrPC empowers the police to arrest any person without an order from the magistrate and without a warrant in the event that the offence involved is a cognisable offence.
Section 156 (1) empowers the investigation by the police into a cognisable offence without an order of a magistrate.