State must legislate appropriate enactments to curtail social media war: Kerala HC

The court observed that some abusive comments do not come under the purview of Section 67 of the Information Technology Act.
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In light of sometimes vicious, defamatory and derogatory comments on social media, the Kerala High Court has asked the state government to create necessary legislation to curtail this.

The court made the direction while considering the bail plea of an anchor of an online news channel, which airs coverage on Facebook and YouTube. According to the High Court order, the case pertains to the publication of a news piece that was allegedly lascivious in nature. The accused had allegedly made offensive remarks about a particular community.

While granting bail to the accused, the single bench of Justice PV Kunhikrishnan observed that there was an increase in verbal fights on social media.

The accused in the case told the court that she regretted making such a statement and that it was made due to the abusive and sexually-charged language that is used against her on social media.

“If one person posts a defamatory or lascivious comment on social media, instead of approaching the police, the others will respond to the same with more vulgar words. There is no end to it. This is a situation where the rule of law will fail. The parallel societies who are not concerned about the rule of law will emerge. This is a grave situation,” observed Justice Kunhikrishnan.

Referring to an earlier case where the court had taken note of ‘disturbing trends of rising intolerance’ in society, the court observed that certain abusive and unparliamentary comments do not come under the purview of section 67 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act.

“In such a situation, the state has to wake up and legislate appropriate enactments to curtail the social media war. It is the duty of the State to maintain the public order,” the order states.

The court also observed that the police should be vigilant. In accordance with the “existing penal law itself, such culprits can be booked,” it states.

The court also forwarded a copy of the order to the Director-General of Police and the Chief Secretary of state to take appropriate action in accordance with the law.


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