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Kerala Govt. Decides To Amend Police Act To Deal With Insult, Intimidation & Defamation Through Social Media

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
22 Oct 2020 2:47 PM GMT
Kerala Govt. Decides To Amend Police Act To Deal With Insult, Intimidation & Defamation Through Social Media
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Kerala Government has decided to amend the Police Act to include intimidation, defamation, or insulting of any person through social media as an offence punishable with imprisonment of term upto five years and/or upto 10,000/- fine. The Kerala Cabinet has also decided to recommend to the Governor to promulgate an ordinance in this regard. A new Section 118A will be added to the...

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Kerala Government has decided to amend the Police Act to include intimidation, defamation, or insulting of any person through social media as an offence punishable with imprisonment of term upto five years and/or upto 10,000/- fine.

The Kerala Cabinet has also decided to recommend to the Governor to promulgate an ordinance in this regard. A new Section 118A will be added to the Kerala Police Act.

The Government, in a press release, said that it is concerned about the increasing incidents of crimes perpetrated through social media. The existing laws are found to be insufficient to deal with such crimes, especially after the Supreme Court struck down Section 66A of the Information Technology Act and Section 118(d) of Kerala Police Act. 

The Government also took note of the observations made by Kerala High Court in an order passed in May, this year. While disposing a bail application, Justice PV Kunhikrishnan had opined that he State has to legislate appropriate enactments to curtail the social media war. The Court had observed thus while considering the bail application of a female anchor of an online news channel.

Assaulting of a man who had published a YouTube video with vulgar comments about women by dubbing artist Bhagyalakshmi and two other women - Diya Sana and Sreelakshmi Arackal - had generated a huge controversy in the state. 

Shreya Singhal Judgment & Section 118(d)

As per Section 118(d), any person who causes annoyance to any person in an indecent manner by statements or verbal or comments or telephone calls or calls of any type or by chasing or sending messages or mails by any means; shall, on conviction be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine not exceeding ten thousand rupees or with both. 

In Shreya Singhal judgment, the Supreme Court had held that Section 118(d) also violated Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The offence of 'causing annoyance in an indecent manner' suffers from the same type of vagueness and overbreadth, the court had observed while striking down this provision as unconstitutional. The court had, however, rejected the challenge against the provision on the ground of legislative incompetence. The penalty created for causing annoyance in an indecent manner in pith and substance would fall within Entry 1 List III which speaks of criminal law and would thus be within the competence of the State Legislature in any case, it had said.



 


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