Kerala BJP president K Surendran along with other opposition faces have submitted petitions in Kerala High Court challenging Section 118A of Kerala Police Act. The court will hear the petitions on Tuesday.
Political parties in the Opposition have alleged that the amendment would give more power to the police force and lead to the curtailment of press freedom. These charges have been refuted by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan who has said the decision had been taken based on factors such as abuse of social media to tarnish the image of individuals.
After a strong backlash, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said that the Kerala Police Act Amendment ordinance will be reconsidered.
Along with the state BJP President, Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP) leaders NK Premachandran, Shibu Baby John and AA Azeez have also submitted petitions in Kerala High Court.
In October, the state Cabinet had moved to give more teeth to the Police Act by recommending the addition of Section 118-A which stipulates either imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to Rs 10,000 or both to those found guilty of producing, publishing or disseminating content through any means of communication with an intention to intimidate, insult or defame any person through social media. Critics claim that police would be able to file criminal charges on citizens by interpreting any kind of communication as possibly defamatory.
The state government said it had decided to amend the Police Act as the existing legal provisions were inadequate to fight cyber crimes which are a major threat to private life.