Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan assured on Sunday (November 22nd) that the Kerala Police Act amendment would not be used against free speech or impartial journalism.
According to the new amendment signed by Governor Arif Mohammed Khan, those found guilty of disseminating derogatory or defamatory content by any means, including social media, will be punished. The accused will face a three-year prison sentence, a fine of 10,000 rupees, or both.
Speaking to the media, Minister Cheif said social media platforms were being misused and the government was receiving several complaints as to which it had to make a decision.
“The State Government repeatedly received complaints against the widespread misuse of social media, especially through certain online channels. Even prominent public and cultural figures lodged a complaint. They reported to the Government instances where inhumane and vile cyber attacks were carried out by some under the guise of journalism and how it even damaged the family life of many people. It often turned into targeted attacks using untruths and even shady content. Many families are suffering the consequences of these attacks, ”said Kerala CM.
Vijayan said the state has an obligation to protect an individual’s freedom and dignity, but that no action will be taken against media or critics until they violate the constitution and stay within limits.
In addition to guaranteeing the freedom of the press, the Government also has the responsibility to defend the individual freedom of the citizen and his dignity, as enshrined in the Constitution. The popular idea that one person’s freedom ends where the other’s nose begins should be respected. You have the freedom to swing your fist, but it ends where the other’s nose begins. However, there have been cases where this idea has been repeatedly violated, ”said Kerala CM.
“In the name of freedom of the press, individual freedom cannot be violated and likewise, in the name of individual freedom, freedom of the press cannot be violated. The government has a duty to protect both. It is in this context that even at the international level, measures are put in place against the attack on the dignity of the person. The amendment of the Kerala Police Act only affects those who are in step with these measures, ”he added.
Meanwhile, the opposition alleges the amendment is draconian and could be used to suppress free speech, gag the media and silence critics of the government.
(With contributions from the agency)