Under this law, police can punish those found guilty of spreading content by any means of communication, including social media, that is said to be derogatory or defamatory.
On Saturday, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan signed into law an ordinance passed by the ruling LDF to amend the state’s Police Act to punish those found guilty of spreading content by any means of communication, including social media, that is said to be derogatory or defamatory.
The accused, under the amended sections of the law, may face up to three years in jail, a fine of ₹ 10,000 or both. The ordinance protects women and children amid an increase in cyberbullying and hate speech, observing that such attacks can be a threat to the physical and mental safety of the targeted individual(s), said government sources.
In such cases, the amended law allows police to take suo motu action.
The opposition, however, has expressed concern over an amendment, stressing that the law gives police an unnecessarily great deal more power and potentially curtails the freedom of the press, as well as allowing the state to target critics.
P Chidambaram, senior Congress leader, tweeted this morning that he was “shocked” by the new law.
“Shocked by the law made by the Left Democratic Front (LDF) government of Kerala making a so-called ‘offensive’ post on social media punishable by 5 years in prison,” Chidambaram said.
Also shocked by the attempt to implicate Mr Ramesh Chennithala, LOP, in a case where the investigation agency had filed a closure report FOUR times
How will my friend @SitaramYechury , GS, CPI(M), defend these atrocious decisions?
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 22, 2020
The LDF government, back in October, recommended the addition of this provision to the Kerala Police Act (2011). However, its ally CPI(M) had expressed the same concerns.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan, back then, had said the number of cyber attacks was “very concerning”.
“Cyber attacks are a threat to the privacy of life. It has been decided to amend the Police Act since the existing laws are found to be inadequate to tackle the issue. The state cabinet has decided to recommend the Governor issue an amendment to the Act as an ordinance,” the Kerala CM had written on Facebook.