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“This forced silence in a democratic country is equal to death,” he has written

There are limits to freedom of expression for cops Kerala DGP defends social media regulation
news Wednesday, January 06, 2016 - 16:01

A police officer from Pathanamthitta district has been suspended for criticizing a circular, regulating the use of social media by police officers, issued by Kerala police chief DGP TP Senkumar.

On January 2, a civil police officer (CPO), Rajesh Kumar wrote a post on Facebook titled, “Name of silence is death” along with the photographs of the circular.

The post has come down heavily on the DGP and his regulations. In the post, Rajesh has said Senkumar’s decisions were undemocratic.

“This forced silence in a democratic country is equal to death,” he has written.

“Even before joining the police force, we used to pledge that we Indians will strive together for the unity and prosperity of the country.  In the current political situation our country is going through, it is the responsibility of each of us to question the wrong things. I am a citizen of this country and I have the right to do that. But the circular curbs that right,” Rajesh told The News Minute.

In the controversial Facebook post, Rajesh has criticized the DGP for attending religious functions using police security. “You (DGP) linked religion to official life, for a nation which upholds secularism this is deeply hurtful,” Rajesh wrote.

The CPO also points out that senior police officers unnecessarily use huge police protection even to attend personal functions.

However while speaking to TNM, DGP Senkumar said that being in a system, there are limits for freedom of expression, and he claimed that the regulations are being appreciated by many.

Senkumar said that it was the Pathanamthitta police commissioner who suspended Rajesh and not him.

“Suppose a police officer writes wrong things in a newspaper, he will be suspended. Even in private sector there are restrictions. Can you write anything against your employer? Freedom of expression has its limits,” DGP Senkumar told TNM.

The DGP pointed out to another incident where a police officer was suspended for writing derogatory comments on actress Manju Warrier in a post. “A police officer has certain responsibilities,” he said.

“If he cannot understand all these he can go out of the force,” the DGP said while adding “Everyone is appreciating the guidelines, even people from the judiciary appreciated it.”

What are the restrictions that have been imposed?

In the circular issued by the DGP, the following set of guidelines have been mentioned for the officers who use social media:

  •         Police officers should not use pictures in police uniform on social media.
  •        In social media accounts, they should not use official email id and official phone numbers.
  •        Without the permission of a senior officer, one cannot start social media groups in the name of the official units.
  •        Cannot publish any official details of case enquiries, photographs etc.
  •        Should not discuss or criticize cases or topics which are under the court’s consideration.
  •        Should not publish, share, comment, like or send any posts which insult women, children, any particular religion or community.
  •        Should not publish, share, comment, like or send politically influenced posts.
  •        Strict action will be taken if unlawful posts are published under fake profiles.

 

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