FOLLOWING backlash from opposition parties as also rights activities, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday, November 23 announced that the state government has put on hold the implementation of the Kerala Police ( Amendment) Act. The Marxist Chief Minister said his government was not intending to implement the amended act now as even those who supported the LDF and those who stood for the 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,” Vijayan said in a statement, Congress, BJP, IUML and other parties joined hands with the rights activists terming the ordinance as draconian and called for its withdrawal forthwith. They said the amendment, brought through an ordinance provided for imprisonment up to three years to those making defamatory social media posts, was against freedom of speech and the press.BJP had decided to challenge the amended act in the State High Court.
Despite stat wide protests against Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had signed the Kerala Police Act (Amendment) ordinance empowering the law enforcement agencies to prosecute persons for exploiting social media to target women and children. The LDF government was criticised by opposition parties and activists after it has been notified giving far-reaching powers to the police to punish, with imprisonment up to three years, anyone who publishes or disseminates — through any means — intimidating and defamatory content. Secretary T K Jose said the cabinet had cleared the period of three years earlier. “As per my knowledge, it was three years. Whatever is mentioned in the ordinance is final,” Jose told TNIE. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala said the amendment to the Kerala Police Act showed the intolerance of the Pinarayi Vijayan government to free speech. “The amendment is against freedom of speech and expression which is a constitutional right. The new law is a tacit move to silence critics and the media,” he said.BJP leader and Union minister of state for External Affairs V Muraleedharan said the ordinance giving arbitrary powers to the police to arrest anyone for expressing their opinion is draconian. “When the noose tightens around the Chief Minister on the gold scam and the drugs scandal, the CPM-led LDF government is resorting to undemocratic means,” he said.IUML leader M K Muneer said, “By curtailing freedom of expression and targeting dissenting voices, CM Pinarayi Vijayan is playing from Modi’s playbook”. The law is intended to stop bullying, insulting or disgracing individuals through any content and circulating the same through any communication medium. Image courtesy : The Week