Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan cleared a state authorities ordinance amending the Police Act to permit any particular person or the authorities to file a case over social media posts which are intimidating, insulting or defamatory, a transfer the administration stated is supposed to counter cyber bullying however critics have known as it a risk to free speech and media freedom.
At current, defamation instances below Part 499 and 500 of Indian Penal Code can solely be filed by an individual who has been focused. Kerala’s new legislation will permit any third particular person or a police officer to file grievance.
Anybody producing, publishing or disseminating such content material on social media will face a jail time period of as much as 5 years or a superb of as much as Rs10,000 or each.
The Governor, who returned to the official residence lately after recovering from Covid-19, signed the ordinance, in accordance with an official at Raj Bhavan who requested to not be named.
“We agree cyber bullying of girls and kids ought to be contained at any value. However within the guise of preventing cyber crime, the federal government could goal journalists who’re exposing many misdeeds. A number of the wordings within the ordinance buttress our concern,” stated opposition chief Ramesh Chennithala.
However the authorities defended its place saying present legal guidelines weren’t efficient in coping with such crimes. It additionally identified that the Excessive Court docket had directed the state chief secretary and the director basic of police (DGP) in Could to provoke efficient steps to curtail hate speech and bullying in social media.
“Apprehension on this regard is ill-founded. Our solely goal is to curb cyber assaults which are posing a serious risk to personal life,” stated state legislation minister A Ok Balan. However the opposition wasn’t satisfied.
The federal government determined to fast-track the ordinance after three girls activists, together with dubbing artist Bhagyalakshmi, assaulted Youtuber Vijay P Nair final month for allegedly derogatory feedback that he made on video.
The Excessive Court docket pulled up the activists for taking legislation into their arms, however they contended that they filed a grievance and police did not take any motion.
Cyber and authorized consultants stated the legislation might result in severe misuse. “It’s going to do extra hurt than any good. No blogger, on-line media particular person or cyber activist can write on any subject. It may be used to settle scores. Intention is sweet, however implementation can be disastrous,” stated authorized skilled and cyber activist Jiyas Jamal.