Kerala Police Act: Not Against Free Speech

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Kerala Police Act: Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has defended the modification to Act. (File)

Thiruvananthapuram:

The modification to the Kerala Police Act “will by no means be used towards free speech or neutral journalism”, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan mentioned Sunday within the face of an avalanche of criticism towards a “draconian” ordinance the opposition alleges may very well be used to muzzle free speech, goal the media and silence 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 embrace three years jail time, a superb of Rs 10,000 or each.

Mr Vijayan mentioned the state had an obligation to guard people’ liberty and dignity, however that no motion can be taken towards the media or critics who keep “inside the limits of the Structure”.

“The brand new modification will by no means be used towards free speech or neutral journalism. Apprehensions on the contrary are unfounded,” the Chief Minister’s Workplace mentioned.

“Together with making certain freedom of press, the Authorities additionally has the duty of upholding a citizen’s particular person freedom and his/her dignity, as enshrined within the Structure. The favored concept that one’s freedom ends the place the opposite’s nostril begins must be revered. Nonetheless, there have been situations of this concept being repeatedly violated,” the CMO assertion added.

Referring to “the usage of private likes, or dislikes, political or non-political pursuits… to unsettle the peaceable environment of households… to settle scores”, the Chief Minister mentioned in his assertion that such assaults didn’t fall underneath the class of journalism and had been “private vendetta”.

Mr Vijayan mentioned his authorities had “repeatedly acquired complaints towards the misuse of social media, particularly by sure on-line channels”.

The opposition was swift to precise its concern, with the Congress’s Shashi Tharoor, the MP from Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram, known as it “troubling” and declaring that the ordinance was “so loosely drafted it may be used towards political opponents”.

“This regulation can and will likely be challenged within the courts, as a result of any political assault on social media towards a celebration or “class of individuals” (eg ‘sanghis’ or ‘libtards’) may appeal to its provisions. It have to be revised to slim its software to flagrant circumstances of abuse and threats solely,” he mentioned.

Union Minister V Muraleedharan hit out on the “draconian” ordinance and mentioned it threatened freedom of speech. In his tweet the minister from Kerala mentioned the ordinance was an indication of the Pinarayi Vijayan authorities “loosing confidence”.

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“Because the noose tightens round @CMOKerala on #Goldscam & #DrugsScandal, authorities is resorting to undemocratic means. The ordinance giving arbitrary powers to police to arrest anybody for expressing their opinion is draconian and goes towards freedom of speech,” he mentioned.

Kerala BJP chief Ok Surendaran criticised the usage of the police “as a software of repression”.

The controversy over the brand new modification pertains to what are extensively seen as similarities to legal guidelines struck down by the Supreme Courtroom – Part 66A of the IT Act and Part 118(d) of the Kerala Police Act. 

The state had mentioned the repeal of those legal guidelines left it with no different to “successfully (deal) with crimes”.

Again in October, when the LDF authorities really helpful the addition of this provision to the Kerala Police Act (2011), its ally, the Communist Occasion of India (CPI) expressed comparable issues.

In the meantime, Kerala DGP Lokanath Behera has mentioned {that a} SOP (commonplace working process) will likely be ready for circumstances to be filed underneath the modification.

“That is to make sure the ordinance will not be misused,” he was quoted by information company ANI.

With enter from ANI

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