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Kerala puts on hold Police Act Amendment Ordinance
The Ordinance had sought to empower police to make arrests without warrant anyone it finds guilty of making or spreading defamatory, derogatory or 'offensive' posts and contents in social and other media. The apex court had earlier struck down another, similar law enacted by the State Government, Section 118(d) of the Kerala Police Act, as also Section 66A of the IT Act. Sections of people question the Ordinance as mala fide.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, Nov 23: The State Government on Monday suspended the implementation of the Kerala Police Act Amendment Ordinance it issued on October 21 following widespread opposition that it violated the freedom of expression. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan had given his consent on Saturday.

The Ordinance had sought to make defamatory, derogatory or 'offensive' posts and contents in social and other media a cognizable offence, enabling the police officials to make arrests and initiate legal proceedings without warrant. Offenders could face up to three years in jail, a fine of Rs 10,000 or both.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said, "Concerns were expressed by those who supported LDF & those who stood for protection of democracy. In this situation, it's not intended to amend the law." He said a "detailed" discussion will be held in the Assembly. On Sunday he had defended the Ordinance saying, it "will in no way be used against free speech or impartial journalism".

The Ordinance sought to add a Section, 118A, to the Police Act, providing the police with more powers in dealing with such cases.

\MP and Congress leader Shashi Tharoor tweeted that the Ordinance was "so loosely drafted it could also be used against political opponents".

State BJP leader K Surendaran called the amended law "a tool of repression."

The Supreme Court had earlier struck down a similar law enacted by the State, Section 118(d) of the Kerala Police Act, as also Section 66A of the IT Act.

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