Section 118A, a provision was recently added to the Kerala Police Act, by the way of amendment. This provision was highly criticized by supporters of free speech, politicians in the opposition in Kerala. Many contended that it is arbitrary and curbs freedom of speech and expression and even against the principles laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the case of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India.
What is Section 118A?
“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”
A submission was made by the Additional Advocate General of Kerala stating that the Govt. has decided to in fact take back the recent amendment. The Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice S Manikumar and Justice P Chaly were hearing pleas that challenged the said amendment considering it in violation of Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression. The Court had earlier directed that till the time the Government of Kerala takes back the amendment, no arrest or action will be taken on the basis of Section 118A or by invoking it.