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Kerala scraps anti-free speech Act but Left-liberals never opposed it

Kerala scraps anti-free speech Act but Left-liberals never opposed it

<p style="font-weight: 400;">After backlash within the party and from the Opposition, the Left-led Kerala government today scrapped the Kerala Police (Amendment) Act, 2020, which was seen as curbing free speech.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">According to the Act, a person could be punished with a prison term for social media posts which deemed as insulting, derogatory, intimating, or defamatory.  The punishment included three years of jail or a fine of up to ₹10,000 (or both) if they were found guilty under what were to be known as Section 118 (A) of the Kerala Police Act. The ordinance was promulgated on November 21.</p>

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<p dir="ltr" lang="en">Shocked by the law made by the LDF government of Kerala making a so-called ‘offensive’ post on social media punishable by 5 years in prison</p>
— P. Chidambaram (@PChidambaram_IN) <a href="https://twitter.com/PChidambaram_IN/status/1330369722907582465?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 22, 2020</a></blockquote>
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<p dir="ltr" lang="en">The LDF Govt has amended the Kerala Police Act, introduced jail term of 5 years or fine of 10000 or both for any social media post that is deemed “offensive” or threatening.</p>
This will kill free speech, threaten press freedom, give more power to the police.<a href="https://t.co/VGnfReCNeq">https://t.co/VGnfReCNeq</a>

— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) <a href="https://twitter.com/amitmalviya/status/1330366157765767168?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">November 22, 2020</a></blockquote>
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<p style="font-weight: 400;">The Opposition across party lines slammed the CPM-led ruling LDF state government for the “harsh and draconian” move to “gag the media.”</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">It needs to be mentioned here that in 2015 the Supreme Court had struck down a similar statutory provision—Section 66A of the Information Act, 2000. This section gave government power to arrest and imprison an individual for “allegedly” offensive online posts. The apex court ruled that ‘offensive’ is too vague and subjective term. Who would decide what is offensive and what’s not? At that time too, the same judgment declared Section 118 (d) of the Kerala Police Act as invalid, which stipulate a jail term for any indecent, annoying comments and messages.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">Although the Kerala government has scrapped the Act within 48-hours it came into being, the entire episode has raised question about the Left’s professed regard for free speech. Left-liberals were conspicuous by their silence over Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan’s assault on freedom of expression. Left leaders like Sitaram Yechury and D. Raja obviously didn’t slam the state government move.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">This is in sharp contrast to their pro-liberty stand regarding criminal cases against Umar Khalid, Sharjeel Imam and Kanhaiya Kumar.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">Protest against a similar ordinance would have been shrill had any Bharatiya Janata Party-led state had enacted such a draconian legislation.</p>
<p style="font-weight: 400;">By their silence, communist leaders and Leftist intellectuals have exposed themselves as hypocrites.</p>.