Kerala Police Act Won’t be Used Against Free Speech: CM Vijayan

Chidambaram asked whether CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury will defend such “atrocious decisions”.

Updated
India
2 min read
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
i

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday, 22 November said that the Kerala Police Act will in no way be used against free speech or impartial journalism and apprehensions to the contrary are unfounded.

Vijayan said that the state government repeatedly received complaints against the wide misuse of social media, especially by certain online channels.

“Even prominent public and cultural figures had made such complaints. They have brought to the notice of the Government instances where inhuman and vile cyber attacks were carried out by some in the guise of journalism and how it even harmed the family lives of many. It has often turned into targeted attacks using untruths and even sleazy content. Many families are bearing the consequences of such attacks,” Vijayan said, according to news agency ANI.

Congress Attacks Govt Over Kerala Police Act

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram on Sunday, 22 November, criticised the Kerala government for signing the Kerala Police Act Amendment ordinance, envisaged by the Left government in the state to prevent cyber attacks against women and children which the Opposition had alleged would curtail freedom of expression.

Chidambaram in a series of tweets mentioned that he is shocked to hear the law made by the LDF government of Kerala.

“Shocked by the law made by the LDF government of Kerala making a so-called ‘offensive’ post on social media punishable by 5 years in prison,” Chidambaram tweeted.

Chidambaram also asked whether the CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury will defend such “atrocious decisions”.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor also said that the Kerala government's decision is “troubling”.

He said that the law will respond to several offensive tweets against women.

“But it is so loosely drafted that it could also be used against political opponents, journalists and critics,” Tharoor tweeted.

In another tweet, Tharoor specifically mentioned “sanghis and libtards” and said that this law can and will be challenged in court because any political attack on social media against a party or “class of persons” could attract its provisions.

“It must be revised to narrow its application to flagrant cases of abuse and threats only,” Tharoor tweeted.

Kerala Congress chief Mullappally Ramachandran called the law “absolute fascism”.

He said that allegations including old smuggling and drug dealing have surfaced against the state government, and that these were exposed by the media.

“This law has been introduced as part of a conspiracy to silence voices against the government,” ANI quoted Ramachandran as saying.

Last month, the state Cabinet had decided to give more teeth to the Police Act by recommending the addition of Section 118-A. This replaces the now-defunct Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, which made posting ‘offensive’ comments online a punishable crime, reported The News Minute.

(With inputs from ANI and TNM)

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