Thiruvananthapuram, Nov 23 (IANS) Cornered by a maze of scams and allegations, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan played a fast one and appears to have won round one with the media after coming out with the Kerala Police Act amendment, forcing the aggressive media to change tracks from the various scams to the new amendment.
The new amendment came into effect from Sunday.
Off the blocks first was State BJP president K.Surendran, who said he is moving the Kerala High Court against this draconian law.
In the new amendment, it empowers the police to slap criminal charges on people by interpreting any kind of communication through any medium as defamatory.
In the new 118 A amendment any violator, be it in any media, including print and TV, online news or social media, is liable for an imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years or with a fine of Rs 10,000, or with both.
As soon as this new Act was passed, protests came from far and wide. With the sole exception of CPI-M, every other body has condemned it.
It was on Saturday late night that the news first surfaced about the media gag, which left many surprised as this has come from the stables of the Vijayan government, who time and again bats for the freedom of the press and not to mention about his regular statements on what happened during the Emergency.
Since Saturday night, the Kerala media has been discussing only this topic, and hence Vijayan appears to have won the first round, as he has been able to ‘scuttle’ all sorts of discussion in cases like gold smuggling, Life Mission. This comes at a time, when his closest aide and party functionary C.M. Raveendran, is all set to be served a fresh notice by the Enforcement Directorate to come in for questioning in the gold smuggling case.
Raveendran was asked to appear before the ED in the first week of this month, but since he turned Covid positive, he was unable to present himself and. sources now say that a new notice will be served to him on Monday.
Following a huge outrage on the gagging of the media, Vijayan’s explanation came which said ‘the new amendment will in no way be used against free speech or impartial journalism and any fear to the contrary is unfounded’.
State Law Minister A.K. Balan while trying to diffuse the issue said, “At no cost will there be any gagging of the media and this is nothing but to put brakes on the abuse of people in the social media and the police can give bail immediately.”
Meanwhile, reports point out that the Vijayan government is all set to appoint a committee of experts, including police and legal brains to study in-depth the new amendments.