I am perturbed by the manner in which the Information Technology Act is being used — as a tool to curb free speech, enshrined as one of the fundamental rights in the Constitution (“An attack on media freedom,” Nov. 2). It seems the government and political leaders are not ready to face criticism of any kind.
It is surprising to see the speed with which policemen acted on an email complaint lodged by Karti Chidambaram and arrested IAC volunteer Ravi Srinivasan, when it is an arduous task for ordinary citizens to lodge complaints in police stations. The government should stop venting its spleen on whistleblowers and those fighting for clean governance. People are already disillusioned with the UPA government at the Centre because of the various scams in which it is involved. It should stop doing anything more that will harm its credibility further.
S. Prince Ezra,
The police sprang into action at record speed for a minor irritant caused to the Finance Minister’s son. All other government departments must be doing the same to ensure that political leaders and their relatives can have a smooth and clear road in all their dealings. Even in a democracy, some people are more equal than others.
It is distressing to learn of the plight of Mr. Srinivasan — arrested for exercising his fundamental right. What a nightmare! It is upsetting that while the common man struggles to register an FIR even in serious matters, the kin of a Minister can have anybody arrested for what he thinks is an “offensive” tweet.
That our leaders are cut to the quick just by allegations of corruption levelled against them and their kin shows how defensive they are. If they really find the charges baseless and frivolous, they can approach the court to prove their innocence and claim damages. By putting a person behind bars for tweeting an opinion on the internet is against the right to freedom of speech and expression. The IT law must indeed be amended to stop its abuse by the high and mighty for silencing their critics.
Arresting someone for tweeting over an issue that is already in the public domain is outrageous.
The alacrity with which the police acted against Mr. Srinivasan shows that the law works in different paces for different classes of people.
It is indisputable that Section 66A of the IT Act is a piece of black legislation like the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. But it is not enough to just repeal the Section. Instances like the arrest of the Puducherry IAC activist take place not only in the case of online activities. They are a culmination of the autocratic impulse of the political class to curb free speech, which is evident from the continuing series of murders of RTI activists and the latest standoff between Mamata Banerjee and students.
It is imperative that the proposed Lokpal Bill should contain provisions to protect whistleblowers and anti-corruption activists.
Karti Chidambaram has struck a soft target using his political clout to warn his detractors. Otherwise, how can anyone explain the CBCID swinging into action on a complaint sent through e-mail when even written complaints and personal visits to police stations do not result in any concrete action for the common man? The intolerance to criticism by those in public life is condemnable.