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Assault charges filed for filming traffic police’s altercation

Maharashtra’s Nalasopara police has filed assault charges against a bank manager for allegedly filming a video of an altercation between a traffic cop and a biker, reports Afternoon DC.

This video reportedly went viral on the mobile messaging app WhatsApp and other social networking sites following which several people reportedly criticised the cop’s attitude. An Asian Age report suggests that 46,431 people had shared the video on Facebook within two days.

After this, cops apparently filed charges against the bank manager, his associate and the biker under the section 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty) and section 34 (common intention), while a Times Of India report suggests that they were booked under sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging of his duty) and 143 (being member of unlawful assembly).

This case points out how some of the laws in India are arbitrary enough to be applied selectively. For instance, how is filming a video about a rogue act by a public servant deterring them from discharging their duties. Due to this arbitrariness, the police can easily throw the rule-book at the person if it wants to take anyone down, and the person is then left to the mercy of slow pace of India’s overburdened judicial system.

What these incidents will also do is it will reduce the likelihood of people pointing out mistakes done by public servants and thereby reduce the propensity of people to voice criticism and dissent in a public forum.

Warnings over sharing objectionable content on the Internet

In June this year, we witnessed two incidents of arrest: an MBA student was arrested for allegedly sending an “offensive message” on WhatsApp while another person in Mumbai was arrested for posting on the Goa+ Facebook Group, that if elected to power, Modi would unleash a ‘holocaust’.

In the same month, Mumbai Police had also issued a warning to citizens directing them to not ‘like’ objectionable posts on Facebook. The department had mentioned that the people would be booked under section 66A of the IT Act and section 295A of Indian Penal Code, which deals with ‘hurting religious sentiments’, in such cases.

Last month, the Karnataka police also issued similar warnings to citizens of Belgaum in North Karnataka informing them that uploading, modifying, resending and liking malicious or misleading images, videos and messages through any medium with an intention of hurting religious sentiments knowingly or unknowingly is a punishable offence under sections 66A of the Information Technology Act and 153A, 295 of the Indian Penal Code. 

The Karnataka Government also passed a legislature, that allows the authorities to arrest a person even before he/she has committed an offence under the IT Act (Also readYou could be labelled a ‘goonda’ in the eyes of the State – Bangalore Mirror).

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