Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan
File Photo

Facing flak over the law that may allow jailing of citizens over "offensive" or "defamatory" social media posts, the Pinarayi Vijayan in Kerala on Monday put on hold implementation of the controversial amendment to the state Police Act.

The CPI(M)-led Left Democratic government cited criticism from various quarters, saying that a detailed discussion will be held in the state assembly before the next step.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said his government was not intending to implement the amendment act now as even those who supported the LDF and those who stood for protection of democracy expressed concern about it.

"We are not intending to implement the amended Kerala Police Act. A detailed discussion will be held in the state assembly in this regard and further steps will be taken after hearing views from various quarters," he said in a statement.

Opposition parties have slammed the amendment, brought through an ordinance, providing for imprisonment up to five years to those making defamatory social media posts, saying it was against freedom of speech and the press. The law, it said, was aimed at preventing cyber attacks against women and children.

The Kerala state cabinet, last month, had decided to give more teeth to the Police Act by recommending addition of Section 118-A. Kerala Governor Arif Muhammad Khan signed the Kerala Police Act amendment ordinance on Saturday.

The amendment would give more power to the police and also curtail the freedom of the press, the critics said. The LDF government headed by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said the decision had been taken based on factors such as abuse of social media to tarnish the image of individuals.

Section 118A incorporated in the Act says that anyone creating or sending offensive message or that which is intended to offend or threaten another person, through any means of communication, is liable to face imprisonment of five years or fine of Rs 10,000 or both.

The law aims to stop bullying, insulting or disgracing individuals through any content and circulating the same through any communication medium. The offenders will be awarded a sentence of five years/penalty of Rs 10,000 or both.

(With agencies)

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