The Kerala government on Monday decided to not implement the amended Kerala Police Act which enables arrest for content or social media post deemed ‘offensive’ amid widespread criticism.
Kerala’s chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the amendment to the Kerala Police Act ‘will not be implemented’.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan said, “With the announcement of the amendment, different views arose from different quarters. Concerns were expressed by those who supported LDF and those who stood for the protection of democracy. In this situation, it’s not intended to amend the law,”
“Detailed discussions will be held in the assembly and further steps will be taken in this regard after hearing the views of all parties.” he further added.
On Friday, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan signed the special order for the Kerala Police (Amendment) Ordinance, 2020 which included a new section, 118 (A). According to it, an individual who creates or sends any information that is offensive or is intended to offend or threaten another individual, through any means of communication, is liable to face imprisonment of three years or a fine of Rs 10,000 or both.
There has been massive outrage over this controversial move by Kerala’s Left Democratic Front (LDF) government. The opposition had said that this could be used to suppress free speech and was done to target the media.
CM Pinarayi Vijayan on Sunday had said that the law would not be used against ‘free speech’ or ‘impartial journalism.’ The chief minister’s office (CMO) released a statement.
The statement read, “The new amendment will in no way be used against free speech or impartial journalism. Apprehensions to the contrary are unfounded,”
The statement further added: “Along with ensuring freedom of the 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 CM in his statement said that attacks where the use of ‘personal likes, or dislikes, political or non-political interests’ were used to ‘settle scores’ did not fall under the journalism and were ‘personal vendetta.’
He also said that his government had received complaints against the ‘misuse of social media.’