സിമിയുടെ ബ്ലോഗ്

11/16/2010

An internet forward invites politician's wrath, results in arrest.

Perceptions about the freedom of speech in India is taking a sharp turn for wrong. The latest incident is from the state of Kerala.

In Kerala, an ordinary citizen, (Mr. Moithu) was arrested because he forwarded an email containing a poster. The poster had the picture of a popular politician (Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan) with a dialogue from an old Malayalam movie 'Sandesham'. The alleged cyber crime was that Moithu edited out the part that mentioned "this is a joke" from the subject line, and forwarded this picture to his few friends through email.

Upon a direct complaint from Mr. Pinarayi Vijayan, who is the secretary of ruling CPM (Communist Party-Marxist) party, police were swift to act, and arrested Mr. Moithu. Hard disk of his computer was confiscated. He was released on bail, but the case proceedings are set to continue as of now, as there is no news that the complaint is withdrawn.

"What did I do wrong? all that I did was forward a comic email that came to my inbox", contests Mr. Moithu. Apparently, the ruling party is not impressed. Many in the party are of the opinion that this cannot be treated as a joke, and has to be treated as libel.

The dangerous side of this legal action is that it scares cyber citizens into not forwarding any internet joke. Actions like this would lead to a situation where people will be scared to criticize politicians. According to amendments in Indian cyber law (2008), anything that causes annoyance or inconvenience to another person can be grounds for criminal proceedings. These clauses have been put to use in the above mentioned case. The implications of using this law for legal action from a leading politician is far reaching. One can only hope that other politicians does not emulate his model, and not use this law as a tool to suppress satire and dissent against them in Internet.

Indian cyber law, like other laws which are introduced around the world in the name of combating terrorism, is in serious violation of individual freedom. There is a dire need to amend the law. At the same time, politicians should be more responsible in their approach to dissent and satire. Politicians should desist from using this law as a tool to silence the masses.

1 comment:

Sabu M H said...

There is a big difference in sending a joke and sending something in the intention to defame somebody.. Nobody can read the mind of the sender whether he/she intended to send the email as a joke or with something heinous thought ?
what you will think if somebody use a derogatory remark or a defaming photo of you to a group which has hundreds of members ? Is it easy to repair the damage that it caused ? So what will happen if this was done against a popular person?... think about it..I think it is violating human rights.. rights to live in pride..

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