Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Despite the guarantees in the Constitution, free speech, dissent and even legitimate criticism is looked at as an exercise in bad faith, and projected as an attack on democratically elected authority. Critically analyse the statement in the light of recently passed ordinance in the state of Kerala.

Topic : Parliament and State legislatures—structure, functioning, conduct of business, powers & privileges and issues arising out of these.

1. Despite the guarantees in the Constitution, free speech, dissent and even legitimate criticism is looked at as an exercise in bad faith, and projected as an attack on democratically elected authority. Critically analyse the statement in the light of recently passed ordinance in the state of Kerala. (250 words)

Reference: The Hindu 

Why the question:

Kerala Governor recently signed an ordinance amending the law to give the police more powers to prosecute persons who exploit various communication platforms to slander fellow citizens. Thus the question.

Key Demand of the question:

One is expected to critically examine the statement in question with the recent example of the Kerala ordinance related to free speech and dissent.

Directive:

Critically analyze – When asked to analyse, you have to examine methodically the structure or nature of the topic by separating it into component parts and present them as a whole in a summary. When ‘critically’ is suffixed or prefixed to a directive, one needs to look at the good and bad of the topic and give a fair judgment.

Structure of the answer:

Introduction:

Present briefly the background of the question; the ordinance has introduced a new provision, Section 118-A, to the Kerala Police Act, 2011. The amendment proposes three years of imprisonment and a fine of up to ₹10,000 for those convicted of producing, publishing or disseminating derogatory content through any means of communication to intimidate, insult or defame any person.

Body:

Present the issue at hand; what are the concerns with the amendment through the ordinance; the drastic amendment to the Kerala Police Act, 2011, would give the local law enforcement more powers to curb defamation. The ordinance would allow whimsical interpretations by law enforcement agencies.

Opposition parties, journalists’ bodies and civil rights activists see it as a threat to the freedom of the press and free speech in the State. It is argued that the amendment would reverse the course on media freedom, muzzle free speech and jeopardize civil liberties.

Throw light on Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Conclusion:

Conclude that despite the guarantees in the Constitution, free speech, dissent and even legitimate criticism is looked at as an exercise in bad faith, and projected as an attack on democratically elected authority. As a result, existing laws are being weaponised to arrest journalists and citizens for a tweet or a slogan or a Facebook post.

CategoriesINSIGHTS