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Bihar government plans to criminalise ‘insulting’ criticism of the government: Report

The Bihar government has instructed its police departments to begin investigating criticism of the government, parliamentarians, legislators, and government officials, NDTV reported. The move to criminalise "insulting" criticism of a government will be the the first of its kind in the country, where in recent weeks state governments and police departments have been issuing notices to artists, film-markets comedians and regular citizens over what they consider objectionable content on social media. "Reports keep coming to light that some individuals/organizations are making offensive/indecent comments on social media about honorable ministers, members of parliament, MLAs, and government officials," Nayyar Hasnain Khan, Additional Director General of Police at Bihar's Economic Offences Unit wrote in a letter to the state's secretaries. "This is illegal and falls under the category of cybercrime," Khan said. "Criticism is healthy for democracy. But criticism must be constructive and the language used must fall within the norms of decency," Jitendra Kumar, an Additional Director General of Police reportedly said. The Bihar governments' move represents a startling assault on freedom of expression principles. In fact, jurisprudence on free speech in India has clear guidelines on what kind of speech is protected and what isn't. However, that has not stopped state governments and public officials to arrest citizens over social media posts in recent weeks and years. The scope of the language used in the letter could lead to widespread state action against online users. The Kerala government recently withdrew a similar ordinance that authorized the police to act against "humiliating"…

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