Cong shocked at Kerala govt's tough social media law

Shocked at Kerala govt's tough social media law, Congress remembers 'friend' Yechury

Chidambaram said that he is shocked by the law made by the LDF government of Kerala making a “so called offensive post” on social media punishable

Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram. Credit: PTI

Congress leaders on Sunday expressed shock at Kerala government's decision to promulgate an ordinance to punish those making “offensive” social media posts with a three year jail term.

“How will my friend Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary of CPI(M) defend these atrocious decisions,” senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said, referring to the Congress’ arch rival in Kerala, where Assembly elections are scheduled next year.

Chidambaram said that he is shocked by the law made by the LDF government of Kerala making a “so called offensive post” on social media punishable by “five years in prison”.

Senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor too joined Chidambaram, saying that the Kerala government's law is in response to several cases of offensive posts abusing and threatening women, but was “so loosely drafted” that it could be used against political opponents, journalists and critics.

“This law can & will be challenged in the courts, because any political attack on social media against a party or ‘class of persons’ (eg ‘Sanghis’or ‘libtards’) could attract its provisions,” said Tharoor, who is the chairman of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology.

“It must be revised to narrow its application to flagrant cases of abuse & threats only,” Tharoor said.

Chidambaram also expressed shock at the attempt to implicate Leader of the Opposition in the Kerala Assembly Ramesh Chennithala in a case where the investigation agency had filed a closure report four times.

On Saturday, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan signed an Ordinance that granted the state police powers to punish those guilty of spreading a derogatory or defamatory content by any means (including social media) with either three year jail term, or a fine of Rs 10,000 or both.

The UPA government had amended the Information Technology Act to add Section 66-A that made posting offensive comments online a punishable crime, and later it was scrapped by the Supreme Court.