When India’s ‘national security’ legislation passed, it was ‘a huge threat to our way of life’
India’s “national security” bill passed in the national assembly today, paving the way for a crackdown on dissent in the wake of the government’s failed anti-corruption drive.
The draft law, passed in a special session that began with a “vote of confidence” vote, was meant to curb the influence of the country’s ruling Congress party.
The bill allows for jail terms for “criminal defamation”, a broad category that covers the use of defamation in the name of an organisation, a company or an individual, as well as the “linking of articles” and the “publicity of false information”.
The government also says the law will help to “ensure the proper functioning of the judiciary” and “provide security to the country”.
The legislation is meant to strengthen the judiciary and curb the power of the “security forces”, but critics say it goes too far in cracking down on critics of the ruling party.
On Monday, the ruling Congress accused “unwitting collaborators” of inciting riots, and called on the media to “fight back” against the bill.
The government said the law would “protect the interests of the nation” and that it was the “duty of the media” to “defend the rights of the people”.
But the opposition BJP, which has vowed to fight the bill in the upper house of parliament, said it was “an act of treason” to call on the public to “disclose information about the government”.
Read more: What is “national” security?
The law, which passed with bipartisan support, allows for “a maximum penalty of three years” for “the dissemination of false or defamatory information” in relation to “an official body or body appointed by the government”, which includes “a government function”.
The law also gives the state security commissioner broad powers to “prevent” and/or “restrict” “any person who disseminates false or false information” to any person.
It also gives security agencies broad powers for “assisting” in the investigation and prosecution of “any offence against the law”.
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The bill says “any public official, a member of the armed forces or any other person who gives information on the basis of the public interest”, including “information on any subject of public interest or a subject of the law that has been authorised by the minister, the chief minister or the government, shall be subject to arrest, prosecution and imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years”.
The police have been criticised for using vague, vague laws to go after those criticising the government.
They have also been criticised by human rights groups and for failing to protect people’s rights.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) addresses the media after the bill was passed in parliament, in New Delhi, India, September 24, 2019.
The bill, which came into effect on Monday, states that it will “apply to all information and communication, whether written, oral, electronic, or any combination thereof, concerning the internal security, law enforcement, defence, foreign affairs or any relevant subject matter of the Indian state”.
But it does not provide for any specific penalties.
The proposed laws also do not specify who should be charged with defamation.
“The government has made a lot of noise and it has done so on the pretext of ‘protecting national security’.
But this is a big threat to the way of our life,” said Prashant Bhushan, a Delhi-based lawyer and a journalist.
“I would say the new bill is a step in the wrong direction.
It’s a big step in protecting the vested interests of powerful interests, and it is a huge threat.”
It is not clear how much power the security commissioner will have over the media, given that it is not yet clear who is subject to the law.
The new bill gives the security commission the authority to “authorise the arrest, detention and prosecution for the purpose of investigating and prosecuting any person who has committed any offence against this law”.
The minister has already said the police will not be allowed to “prosecute any person”.
In a separate move, the new law allows for a three-year jail term for “any persons who commit offences” against “this law”.
It also allows “the suspension of the privilege of a person who commits an offence against” the law, a term used in cases involving corruption.
“This will not affect freedom of speech, freedom of association or freedom of assembly, it will not stop the press or media from reporting on any matter,” the law states.
Read More: Why does India need a new law on “national defence”? ReadMore: India must ‘make the nation state again’, say academics The draft law also grants security agencies the power to