Kerala governor Arif Mohammed Khan cleared a state authorities ordinance amending the Police Act to permit any individual or the authorities to file a case over social media posts which might be intimidating, insulting or defamatory, a transfer the administration mentioned is supposed to counter cyber bullying however critics have referred to as it a risk to free speech and media freedom.
At current, defamation circumstances underneath Section 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 individual or a police officer to file grievance.
Anyone producing, publishing or disseminating such content material on social media will face a jail time period of as much as 5 years or a effective of as much as Rs10,000 or each.
The Governor, who returned to the official residence not too long ago after recovering from Covid-19, signed the ordinance, in line with an official at Raj Bhavan who requested to not be named.
“We agree cyber bullying of women and children should be contained at any cost. But in the guise of fighting cyber crime, the government may target journalists who are exposing many misdeeds. Some of the wordings in the ordinance buttress our fear,” mentioned opposition chief Ramesh Chennithala.
But the federal government defended its place saying present legal guidelines weren’t efficient in coping with such crimes. It additionally identified that the High Court had directed the state chief secretary and the director common of police (DGP) in May to provoke efficient steps to curtail hate speech and bullying in social media.
“Apprehension in this regard is ill-founded. Our only aim is to curb cyber attacks that are posing a major threat to private life,” mentioned state legislation minister A Ok Balan. But the opposition wasn’t satisfied.
The authorities 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 High Court pulled up the activists for taking legislation into their fingers, however they contended that they filed a grievance and police didn’t take any motion.
Cyber and authorized specialists mentioned the legislation might result in critical misuse. “It will do more harm than any good. No blogger, online media person or cyber activist can write on any topic. It can be used to settle scores. Intention is good, but implementation will be disastrous,” mentioned authorized knowledgeable and cyber activist Jiyas Jamal.