Kerala Governor signs police act amendment to counter 'social media abuse'
Section 118A says that anyone creating or sending offensive message or that which is intended to offend or threaten another person, through any means of communication, is liable to face imprisonment of five years or fine of Rs 10,000 or both
Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan has given nod to the ordinance to amend the Kerala Police Act to provide for jail term for social media posts deemed offensive or threatening.
Section 118A incorporated in the Act says that anyone creating or sending offensive message or that which is intended to offend or threaten another person, through any means of communication, is liable to face imprisonment of five years or fine of Rs 10,000 or both.
A Raj Bhavan source confirmed that the Governor, who had come back to the official residence recently after recovering from the COVID-19, signed the ordinance which had triggered a widespread row in the southern state.
The opposition parties had alleged that the amendment would give more power to the police and also curtail the freedom of the press, the charge which was rejected by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan saying the decision had been taken based on factors such as abuse of social media to tarnish the image of individuals.
Expressing concern over the rising crime graph, fake propaganda and hate speech on social media since the outbreak of Covid-19, the LDF government had said since cyber attacks are a major threat to private life, it has been decided to amend the Police Act as the existing legal provisions were inadequate to fight such crimes.
It said while the Supreme Court had repealed section 66-A of the IT Act and Section 118 (d) of the Kerala Police Act on the grounds that these were against freedom of expression, the Centre has not introduced any other legal framework.
"In this scenario, the police are unable to deal effectively with crimes committed through social media," the government had said.
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