On Thursday, 21st January, the Bihar Government has issued a circular which states that individuals and organisations who post “objectionable and indecent” comments (online) against the State Government, Ministers, MLAs, MPs and officials could be booked under the IT Act and the Indian Penal Code. A letter to this effect was released by Chief of Economic Offenses Wing IG Nayyar Hasnain Khan to all secretaries of the Bihar State Government.
The circular by Bihar Police’s Economic Offences Unit states,
“It has regularly been coming to light that certain persons and organisations have been making offensive comments through social media and Internet against government, honourable ministers, MPs, MLAs and government officials as well, which is against prescribed law and comes under cybercrime laws. For this act, it seems appropriate to take action against such organisations and individuals”
The letter/circular further notes that the Economic Crimes Unit of the Bihar Police is the nodal cyber-crime department, and all principal secretaries and secretaries were requested to bring “such matters” to their attention so that after investigation “appropriate legal action can be initiated” against the individuals/organizations.
After facing the backlash over this circular, the Additional Director General Headquarters, Jitendra Kumar, said,
“Criticism is healthy for democracy. But criticism must be constructive and the language used must fall within the norms of decency. This advisory was issued keeping in mind rumours and factually incorrect information and involving the use of insulting language on social media – these are punishable offences under the IT Act.”