The controversial Section 118A of the Kerala Police Act will not be implemented for now and kept in abeyance, CM Pinarayi Vijayan announced on Monday. He said that further action on the matter will be taken after discussing it in the Assembly with all parties. The ordinance introducing the controversial section was approved by the Governor on Saturday.
Pinarayi Vijayan stated, “When the amendment was announced, there rose a difference of opinion from several quarters. Even those who support the LDF and those who stand for the protection of democracy expressed concern. It is in these circumstances that it was decided not to implement the amendment.”
“The government had decided to bring the amendment to prevent the false campaigns questioning personal freedom and dignity enshrined in the constitution. Women and transgender persons have been attacked mercilessly. Family relations have been affected and victims driven to suicide. People, including media heads, had demanded that there should be laws against it. That’s why we thought of the amendment,” he added.
The statement further said, “It is requested that people who are engaged in making false allegations, be restrained and cautious form making such allegations which are not in tune with the personal Liberty and humanity”.
Section 118A of Kerala Police Act
The opposition against the Section 118-A in the Kerala Police Act comes from the fact that it gives unbridled powers for the law enforcement agencies to curtail the freedom of the press and arrest anybody on the charges of exploiting social media to target individuals, especially women and children.
The new section empowers the police to act against media and register cases on the event of detection of a cognisable offence under the relevant section. The amendment proposes five years of imprisonment and a fine of Rs 10,000 for those convicted of producing, publishing or disseminating derogatory content through any means of communication to intimidate, insult or defame any person through social media.
The newly introduced provision says, “anyone who produces content, publishes or propagates it through any means of communication with an intention to threaten, insult or harm the reputation of an individual will be punished with an imprisonment of five years or a fine of Rs 10,000 or with both”.
Apart from opposition parties and civil society organisations, the section was opposed by coalition partners of the LDF as well.