On Saturday, the Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan gave a go-ahead for an ordinance brought in by the LDF government that provides a jail term for any social media or cyber post that is either offensive or threatening.
The ordinance incorporates a new section of 118 (A) in the Kerala Police Act. According to the ordinance, any individual who creates or forwards any information that is offensive or is intended to offend or threaten another person will be liable of a face a prison term of five years or a fine of Rs. 10,000 or even both.
In the state, there has been a fear of the amendment which could be a chilling change in the discourse of free speech. Social media has been coming down heavily on the Kerala state government. According to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the ordinance was brought in because of the growing abuse on social media targeting the individuals.
Ordinance To Be Challenged In Court
Anoop Kumaran, the Kerala-based advocate, who had moved to the Supreme Court in the year 2015 against another section, will now challenge this ordinance in the High Court. He said,
“The government claims that section 118 (A) is meant to protect people, particularly women, from social media abuse. But in reality, the new law would be used by the authorities and government against those who criticize them.”
The Communist party-led government in Kerala had quoted a rise in crimes, fake propaganda, and hate speech was on the rise, especially after the outbreak of COVID-19. They said that the existing provisions in the law will be inadequate to fight them. The government responded to the criticism of the law by saying,
“In this scenario, the police are unable to deal effectively with crimes committed through social media.”
Source: Indian Express