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Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala Cabinet has decided to issue a fresh ordinance to withdraw the Section 118 A, added to the Kerala Police Act, under which offenders, convicted of bullying, insulting or disgracing individuals through any content, knowing it to be false, through any communication medium, were to be awarded a sentence of three years/penalty of Rs 10,000 or both.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said the decision was taken after a special Cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

“The government will recommend the Kerala governor to issue an ordinance to repeal the Section 118 A, added to the Kerala Police Act, aimed at stopping bullying, insulting or disgracing individuals through any content and circulating the same through any communication medium,” Vijayan said.

But, he said, many people have raised a concern that there are chances of misuse of the law as it gives more power to the police. “We value the opinions of the people and have decided to withdraw it as there are apprehensions,” the chief minister said in a statement.

Vijayan added that a new law will be passed only after a detailed discussion in the Assembly and gathering opinions of all sides.

“The amendment evoked varied responses from several corners. Apprehensions were aired by those who support the LDF and profess to defend democracy. In these circumstances, the government of Kerala will not go ahead with implementing the amendment. A detailed discussion will be held in the Assembly regarding this, and the future course of action will be decided upon after duly considering the opinions coming up from all quarters,” he added.

The Kerala government had decided to amend the Kerala Police Act in an effort to check the widespread malicious campaigns through social media and otherwise, which posed a threat to individual freedom and dignity, constitutionally ensured to citizens.

“Criticisms and complaints against defamatory, untrue and obscene campaigns have come up from various quarters of the society. Strong protests have emerged from the society on account of the merciless attacks on various sections including women and transgenders. There have been instances, in which even the integrity of families has been affected, resulting in suicides. The need for legally tackling this was raised even by the heads of media houses. It was in these circumstances that an amendment to the Kerala Police Act was envisaged,” Said Pinarayi.

Section 118 A says that “whoever makes, expresses, publishes or disseminates through any kind of mode of communication, any matter or subject for threatening, abusing, humiliating or defaming a person or class of persons, knowing it to be false and that causes injury to the mind, reputation or property of such person or class of persons or any other person in whom they have interest, shall on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both.”

Kerala governor Arif Muhammad Khan had signed the controversial ordinance on Saturday.



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