decision to amend the Police Act to curb cyber attacks against
women and children, has evoked mixed response with many
welcoming it but a few cautioned that if not clearly drafted
the new law could have an adverse impact on the freedom of
The state cabinet had on Wednesday decided to give more
teeth to the Act by recommending addition of Section 118-A.
The provision stipulates either imprisonment up to five
years or a fine of up to Rs 10,000 or both to those who
produce, publish or disseminate content through any means of
communication with an intention to intimidate, insult or
defame any person.
State Women''s Commission chief M C Josephine Thursday
welcomed the decision of the government to amend the Police
Act to prevent cyber attack against women and children and
said the new law will rein in the cyber bullies.
"We welcome the decision of the state government to amend
the law in order to take stringent action against those
engaged in cyber assault through social media," she said in a
Josephine said it''s the women community which faces the
most cyber attacks and these days the complaints are on a
The Supreme Court decision to repeal Section 66-A of the
IT Act 2000 and Section 118 (d) of the Kerala Police Act, 2011
on the grounds that it was against freedom of expression, has
resulted in rise in cases of cyber attack.
"But this amendment will rein in such cyber bullies," she
Formerjudge of the Kerala High Court Justice B Kemal
Pasha said though he was not aware of the details of the
proposed amendments, he felt it was urgently required.
"I feel an amendment is urgently required as through
social media, such crimes are rising exponentially.
So an amendment with penaleffect is highly necessary to
the Police Act and IT Act as hooligans are using socialmedia
to abuse persons especially women and children or else people
will take law intotheir own hands," he told PTI.
However, Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj of the Supreme court
said the legal validity of the proposed law would depend on
Since there are existing provisions to deal with cyber
crimes against women, the government and the legislature
should be very careful in introducing new provisions of law,
which if not carefully drafted, can have an adverse impact on
the freedom of expression, especially that of the media, he
"I have doubt regarding its legal validity, which of
course would depend upon the text of the proposed law.
It will have to satisfy the principle laid down in Shreya
Shingal judgement of 2015", Kaleeswaram said.
It was in the Shreya Singhal case in which the apex court
struck down the Information Technology Acts Section 66A in
the interest of free speech, a fundamental right.
Though he does not feel that the present law was
inadequate, the lawyer said sections 354, 354A, 354B, 354C and
354D of the IPC were strong provisions to deal with cyber
offences against women.
Asked if the proposed amendment covers mass media also,
he said whether it will curtail the freedom of expression
would depend upon the content of the proposed amendment.
"If the amendment has the tendency to picture any
criticism or difference of opinion as an offence, the same
will not stand the test of Shreya Shingal judgement" , he
Because such an amendment can curtail freedom of
expression of the citizen, including that of the media and it
was due to this the old provision in the Kerala Police Act was
struck down by the apex court along with Section 66A of the
Information Technology Act, he pointed out.
In Shreya Shingal judgement, SC has said the penal
provisions cannot be overbroad since that may have the
tendency to trap the innocent.
Expressing concern at the increasing crime graph, fake
propaganda and hate speech on social media since the outbreak
of COVID-19, the government said since cyber attacks are a
major threat to private life, it has been decided to amend the
Police Act as it is found that the existing legal provisions
were inadequate to fight such crimes.
The Governor has been recommended to issue the amendment
as an ordinance.
The Supreme Court had repealed the Section 66-A of the IT
Act 2000 and Section 118 (d) of the Kerala Police Act, 2011 on
the grounds that it was against freedom of expression.
"The Central Government has not introduced any other
legal framework to replace this.
In this scenario, the police are unable to deal
effectively with crimes committed through social media," a
government press release said. PTI RRT UD