Section 118 of Kerala Police Act, 2011 criminalising publication of threatening or defamatory content withdrawn

An ordinance was signed by the Governor of Kerala, Mohammad Arif Khan on 25th November, 2020 in response to the criticism received for the section. 

The Pinarayi Vijayan-led government had inserted section 118A to the Kerala Police Act, 2011 that made the expression, publication and dissemination of information that may be threatening, abusive, humiliating or causing injury to the mind of a person (defamatory) when the person publishing or disseminating it knows it to be false, a crime. The section was added with the intent to deal with crimes committed on social media by penalising the said act with three years imprisonment or with a fine of Rs 10, 000 or both.

Several petitions were filed against the ordinance adding the section on the grounds that it mirrored Section 66A of the Information and Technology Act which was declared void in the landmark Shreya Singhal v. Union of India Case. The Chief Justice hearing the petitions had directed for the ordinance to be withdrawn under article 213 (2)(b).

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