Amidst the controversy over the new amendment to Kerala Police Act, chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that it will “not be used against freedom of expression or non-partisan media journalism”. The opposition parties had alleged that the amendment would give more power to the police and also curtail the freedom of the press.
Though it was said that the Act was aimed at cyber bullying and fake propaganda on social media, the main opposition claimed that the ordinance does not mention social media, and says “all medium of communication”.
The amended Police Act in no way will be used against freedom of expression or non-partisan media journalism. The state government has been getting complaints about certain social media private channels. Among complainants, there are also prominent people from social-cultural backgrounds. Some of these cyber attacks even destroy families. Many families are suffering because of these cyber attacks. These attacks range from false propaganda to obscenity,” Vijayan said.
He further said that along with freedom of media, the government also has the duty to protect personal liberty, constitutional values. “In the pretext of freedom of media, personal liberty cannot be curtailed or personal liberty cannot be curtailed in the pretext of freedom of media,” the CM added.
The state cabinet, last month, had decided to give more teeth to the Police Act by recommending addition of Section 118-A. It stipulates either imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to Rs 10,000 or both to those who produce, publish or disseminate content through any means of communication with an intention to intimidate, insult or defame any person through social media.
“Certain private channels, have disregarded constitutional value and and have created an atmosphere of no law and order. This is not acceptable. Everyone has the freedom to make string criticisms within the limit of constitution and law. That freedom, will not be hindered by the amendment. If taken the right way, no one will be able to see any violation of freedom in this,” Vijayan said.
“The amendment contains provisions that are subject to all provisions protecting media freedom and individual liberty. The amendment also comes in the wake of cyber-attacks on women and transgender groups. The government will certainly consider the constructive comments and suggestions that have been raised regarding this amendment,” he added.