The Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has reportedly signed an ordinance to incorporate the controversial Section 118 (A) in the Kerala Police Act, making defamation, intimidation, and insulting of any person on social media, a punishable offence, with imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of Rs 10,000 or both.
Advocate Anoop Kumaran, who had moved the Supreme Court in 2015 against another Section, 118(D) of the Act. “The government claims that Section 118(A) is meant to protect people, particularly women, from social media abuse. But in reality, the new law would be used by the authorities and government against those who criticize them,” he said.
The Kerala government had also imposed a rise in crimes, fake propaganda and hate speech on social media since the outbreak of Covid-19, and said the current legal provisions were inadequate to fight them. It had stated that while the Supreme Court had claimed Section 118 (D) of the Kerala Police Act as well as Section 66-A of the IT Act, the Centre had not introduced any other legal framework to replace them.