Governor of Kerala has on Friday signed an ordinance withdrawing the controversial Kerala ordinance which added section 118A in the Kerala Police Act. The said amendment made intimidation, defamation, or insulting of any person an offence punishable with imprisonment of term upto three years and/or upto Rs. 10,000/- fine.
The power to withdraw an ordinance by a governor has been envisaged in Article 213 (2) (b) of the Constitution of India.
The section read as follows:
“118 A. Punishment for making, expressing, publishing or disseminating any matter which is threatening, abusive, humiliating or defamatory? Whoever makes, expresses, publishes or disseminates through any kind of mode of communication, any matter or subject for threatening, abusing, humiliating or defaming a person or class of persons, knowing it to be false and that causes injury to the mind, reputation or property of such person or class of persons or any other person in whom they have interest shall on conviction, be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with fine which may extend to ten thousand rupees or with both”, it read.
The Kerala cabinet had decided last month to give more teeth to the Police Act by recommending the addition of section 118-A. On 21st November 2020, Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan had signed the Kerala ordinance.
However, in the wake of strong opposition from the media, civil society and the opposition, the Kerala government had decided to backtrack from implementing the newly added section 118 A of Kerala Police Act, 2011, that would muzzle all types of free speech and opinion through any medium.