The country is yet to come a long way when it comes to freedom of the press.
On 21st November 2020 Arif Mohammad Khan, the Governor of Kerala signed an ordinance (introduced by the Left Government in the State) amending the Kerala Police Act, introducing Section 118A.
Section 118A incorporates that anyone who creates/sends an offence message or intends to threaten another person, via any means of communication, can be punished with up to 3 years of imprisonment and/or fine of Rs.10,000.
Some of the reasons given in favour of the new provision were, the increasing number of crimes against women in the state and the growth of fake propaganda and hate speech in the wake of the pandemic.
This new provision is introduced in the backdrop of the landmark judgement by the Supreme Court in Shreya Singhal vs U.O.I (2013) 12 S.C.C. 73,where the Hon’ble Supreme Court invalidated Section 66A of IT Act, 2000 along with Section 118(d) of the Kerala Police Act as it violated the right to freedom of expression as guaranteed under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution of India.
The Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on 23rd November 2020 stated, that the Kerala Government does not want to implement the said amendment in the Kerala Police Act. This brought about huge criticism among the people.
However, the Kerala Police remained cautious in the said matter and stated that proper consultations with legal experts shall be taken.
~ Abhishek Roy