Under fire, Pinarayi Vijayan-led Kerala govt puts on hold controversial amendment to Police Act
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that a detailed discussion will be held in the Assembly on the matter
The CPM-led Left Democratic Government in Kerala on Monday put on hold the implementation of a controversial amendment to the Police Act citing criticism from various quarters.
After the state secretariat meeting of the CPM, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that his government was not intending to implement the amendment Act now as even those who supported the LDF and those who stood for the protection of democracy expressed concern about it.
"We are not intending to implement the amended Kerala Police Act. A detailed discussion will be held in the state Assembly in this regard and further steps will be taken after hearing views from various quarters," he said in a statement.
The change in the government stand came after the intervention of the CPM central leadership. Besides, other Left parties, particularly CPI, have also taken strong exception to the rule which is considered as "draconian".
Earlier on Monday, CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said the Kerala Police Act Amendment ordinance will be "reconsidered".
"The ordinance will be reconsidered," Yechury told PTI.
When asked if "reconsidered" could mean toning down the ordinance, he indicated that it means the ordinance will be scrapped.
Opposition parties have slammed the amendment, brought through an ordinance, providing for imprisonment up to five years to those making defamatory social media posts, saying it was against freedom of speech and the press.
On Sunday, in a detailed defence of the state government's move, the Chief Minister's Office in a statement had said the amendment to the Kerala Police Act "will in no way be used against free speech or impartial journalism".
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan-led LDF government also said that the amendment is intended to reduce cyber crimes against women.
The Kerala Cabinet, last month, had decided to give more teeth to the Police Act by recommending the addition of Section 118-A. It stipulates either imprisonment for up to five years or a fine of up to Rs 10,000 or both to those who produce, publish or disseminate content through any means of communication with an intention to intimidate, insult or defame any person through social media.
With inputs from PTI
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