The modification to the Kerala Police Act “will in no way be used against free speech or impartial journalism”, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan mentioned Sunday, whereas defending an ordinance that the opposition alleges might be used to muzzle a free press and goal critics of the federal government.
The ordinance, signed by Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Saturday, punishes these responsible of spreading content material by any means (together with social media) that’s mentioned to be derogatory or defamatory. Punishments of as much as three years jail, a high-quality of Rs 10,000 or each are allowed below the amended legislation.
Mr Vijayan mentioned that whereas the state had an obligation to guard people’ liberty and dignity, no motion could be taken towards the media or those that criticise the federal government “within the limits of the Constitution”.
“The new amendment made to the Kerala Police Act will in no way be used against free speech or impartial journalism. Apprehensions to the contrary are unfounded,” an announcement from the Chief Minister’s Office mentioned.
“Along with ensuring freedom of press, the Government also has the responsibility of upholding a citizen’s individual freedom and his/her dignity, as enshrined in the Constitution. The popular idea that one’s freedom ends where the other’s nose begins needs to be respected. However, there have been instances of this idea being repeatedly violated,” the assertion mentioned.
Referring to “the use of personal likes, or dislikes, political or non-political interests… to unsettle the peaceful atmosphere of families… to settle scores”, the Chief Minister mentioned in his assertion that such assaults didn’t fall below the class of journalism.
“They are simply personal vendetta in action (and) many a time, monetary interests are behind such devious designs,” Mr Vijayan added, noting that his authorities was “repeatedly receiving complaints against the misuse of social media, especially by certain online channels”.
The opposition was swift to specific its concern, with Congress chief P Chidambaram tweeting this morning that he was “shocked” by the brand new legislation.
Shocked by the legislation made by the LDF authorities of Kerala making a so-called ‘offensive’ put up on social media punishable by 5 years in jail
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) November 22, 2020
Shashi Tharoor, the Congress MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, referred to as it “troubling”, declaring that it was “so loosely drafted it could also be used against political opponents”.
“This is troubling.. The law responds to several cases of offensive tweets, posts, comments (and) abusing and threatening women, but it is so loosely drafted that it could also be used against political opponents, journalists and critics,” Mr Tharoor tweeted.
“This law can and will be challenged in the courts, because any political attack on social media against a party or “class of individuals” (eg ‘sanghis‘ or ‘libtards‘) could attract its provisions. It must be revised to narrow its application to flagrant cases of abuse and threats only,” he mentioned.
2/2 This legislation can & will likely be challenged within the courts, as a result of any political assault on social media towards a celebration or “class of persons” (eg “Sanghis”or “libtards”) may entice its provisions. It should be revised to slim its utility to flagrant circumstances of abuse& threats solely.
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) November 22, 2020
Back in October, when the LDF authorities advisable the addition of this provision to the Kerala Police Act (2011), its ally, the Communist Party of India (CPI) expressed comparable considerations.
Earlier, in an announcement on Facebook, the Chief Minister mentioned the ordinance was vital as a result of the variety of cyber assaults was “very concerning”.
“Cyber attacks are a threat to 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,” he wrote.