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freedom of speech

29 October 2014

An Andhra Pradesh law student was arrested under the IT Act, presumably section 66A, and the IPC, for allegedly posting a comment on Facebook in English and Telugu that stated “I love u hudhoodh”, referring to the destructive cyclone and noting that it was taking revenge against “betrayers”, reported The Hindu, with NDTV translating it as: "I love you hudhud for nature having selectively punished those who cheated - feeling God is there".

A CID press release said that he “posted irresponsible anti-people comments in the Facebook after the natural disaster Hududh”. The student is reportedly a member of the YSR Congress Party, which is in opposition in AP

21 October 2014

A Bangalore-based businessman was arrested and jailed by police for 21 days in April under section 66A of the IT Act for “spreading canards” about another on online forums, reported The Hindu (via Pranesh Prakash).

The businessman has filed a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and demanded a police inquiry that his arrest was in direct contravention of the Supreme Court guidelines that detentions under Section 66A for sending offensive messages over the internet require permission from a high-ranking police officer (inspector general in cities, or, in districts, deputy commissioners or superintendents).

13 October 2014

Mumbai Mirror report of proceedings and 'caricature'The Bombay high court has served a show cause contempt notice on the Mumbai Mirror for reporting a litigant’s allegation made in court earlier this year that a judge hearing was corrupt.

26 September 2014

NGO workers attacked by a violent mob, saved by police, then arrested by them.

08 July 2014

The Delhi High Court on 23 June blocked 472 websites, but later updated its John Doe order to only block 219 websites, for alleged copyright violation, reported Medianama. The order, which came on the complaint of FIFA 2014 broadcasting rights owner Multi Screen Media, was only implemented in July.

Multi Screen Media instructed advocate Sai Krishna Rajagopal who drafted in senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Akhil Sibal, according to Quartz India. It contended that by allegedly live streaming FIFA online not only were those sites violating its copyright but were also causing tax losses to the Indian government.

The sites blocked include URL shorteners, file storage sites, services for emailing large files, audio files site Wapsip, Telugu content download sites and cartoon sites. Medianama added that the fact that URL shorteners and Google Docs are on the blocking list indicates that the court has not checked every site it has ordered to be blocked, though Quartz added that Google Docs has not been blocked in India.

In August 2012, the Ministry of Communications had similarly blocked 100s of URLs.

27 June 2014

Flame of Truth! After threatening to sue the authors and publishers of the book Gas Wars – Crony Capitalism and the Ambanis in April for Rs 100 crore, Reliance Industries (RIL) yesterday issued a press release to announce the release of a 56-page presentation and promotional video.

23 June 2014

Essar: Claims it doesn't kill forests[Read the litigation files & IB reports]: After the Essar Group last week tried to bring an Intelligence Bureau (IB) report into its litigation against Greenpeace, the NGO is claiming that it’s a strategic litigation against public participation (SLAPP).

16 June 2014

Nine Kerala students were arrested and bailed on Sunday after posting "NaMo" as a crossword clue to the expected solution "NAyeente MOn", which, according to the Times of India loosely translates to "son of a bitch", only several days after six other Kerala students and educational staff were arrested for including Narendra Modi in a line-up of "negative faces" in a college magazine.

Students behind the magazine, in which the crossword also made fun of Kerala chief minister Oommen Chandy, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, party MP Shashi Tharoor, and spiritual leader Mata Amrithanandamayi, were arrested after a complaint by the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP, the student wing of right-wing Hindu organisation RSS) and the Kerala Students Union (KSU). They were booked under "section 153 of Indian Penal Code, which is regarding provocation with intent to cause riot", according to the police commissioner, who also said that "evidence is clear against the accused students" but not yet against the principal of the college.

12 June 2014

Two members of staff and four students of a Kerala polytechnic were arrested, then bailed, after publishing a campus magazine that contained a photograph of Narendra Modi alongside Adolf Hitler, George W Bush, Osama Bin Laden and others in a "negative faces" collage, reported the PTI.

They, and the principal who was not arrested due to ill health, were first booked by the police on Tuesday under Section 153 of the Indian Penal Code (provoking with the intent to create rioting), with local BJP workers protesting and burning copies of the student magazine, according to the Times of India. The page, featuring "dreadful personalities" also featured terrorist Ajmal Kasab, LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran and sandalwood smuggler Veerappan.

The student editor of the publication said: "We didn't have any motive to malign the prime minister. When we decided the content in mid-2013, majority of the media and activists were against Modi in the backdrop of 2002 riots in Gujarat."

27 May 2014

A Mumbai resident’s anticipatory bail application for arrest under hate speech laws was rejected, after his anti-Modi Facebook posts led to an FIR against him under sections 153(A), 295(A) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and section 125 of the People's Representation Act and 66-A of the Information Technology Act, reported Firstpost.

Meanwhile a student interning in Bangalore was arrested for “sending an objectionable message on PM-designate Narendra Modi”, reported the Bangalore Mirror.

According to the Firstpost report, the Mumbai resident had claimed on a Facebook group with 47,000 members that if elected to power Modi would unleash a “holocaust”. Former chairman of the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Atul Pai had filed an FIR against him in March. He said: “"The complaint is against Devu for making inflammatory statements and trying to create communal disharmony, not comments against the BJP."

The Mirror reported that the student had sent a picture message to a Belgaum activist who filed a police complaint against him. The message - a morphed picture showing the final rites of Modi being performed, attended by L K Advani, Rajnath Singh, Sushma Swaraj, Baba Ramdev, Maneka Gandhi and Varun Gandhi. It had a caption: Na Jeet Paye Jhooton Ka Sardar — Ab Ki Baar Antim Sanskar (A false leader will never win, this time it's final rites).{jcomments lock}

05 May 2014

SLAPP LeagueA project aims to build a network of lawyers interested in fighting so-called SLAPP suits against activists and publishers, and to lobby for changes in freedom of speech laws.

29 April 2014

Gas WarsKhaitan & Co and Mulla & Mulla have served defamation notices on behalf of members of the Reliance family on authors of the book Gas Wars, who are defended by Amicus Juris.

25 April 2014

The embattled Sahara Group has withdrawn a defamation case in the Calcutta high court, which had granted a stay order, against Mint journalist Tamal Bandhyopadhyay's book Sahara: The Untold Story.

As part of the settlement, the book will now include a disclaimer by Sahara stating: "The book at best can be treated as a perspective of the author with all its defamatory content, insinuations and other objections, which prompted us to exercise our right to approach the court of law... By getting the opportunity to put forward our objections in the form of a disclaimer...in the best tradition of Sahara and our respect for a journalist's freedom, we are...withdrawing the case we had filed against the publication of the book."

Less than a week ago Sahara had sent a defamation notice to the maker of Amul dairy products for a comic strip parodying the firm's financial troubles. [Mint] [Amul notice]

20 March 2014

"Mumbai cops cite s66A language, seek to block articles against police Chief," tweets @karunanundy ['Offending' article] [Notice via @svaradarajan]

19 March 2014

The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) filed criminal defamation notice against Congress Party chief campaigner Rahul Gandhi, who had said at a rally on 6 March that "RSS people killed Gandhiji". The RSS objected that it had not killed Mahatma Gandhi at all, and that the remarks by Rahul had "harmed the reputation of our organisation", filing a criminal complaint today with a Bhiwandi magistrate [PTI]

05 March 2014

Election Commission wants paid news to be crime: Election Commission said it has proposed to the law ministry to make “paid news” a criminal offence, estimating that Rs 500 crore was currently being spent on paid news [NDTV]

RamJet accuses Kejriwal of demonic pact with Congress: Senior counsel and sometime BJP politician Ram Jethmalani tore into Arvind Kejriwal in a newspaper column after he had “expressed nothing but goodwill and support” for the activist-turned-ex-chief-minister, but had now realised that a rather complex “Faustian bargain” was made between Kejriwal and the Congress to capture potential Modi voters [New Indian Express]

Reliance Infra files defamation vs AAP: Reliance Infrastructure filed a Rs 100 crore defamation suit against the Aam Aadmi Party in late February in the Bombay high court for accusing the company of overcharging customers on purpose [The Hindu]

Delhi HC stays semi-biopic after seeing trailer: Holds that the Gulaab Gang movie, allegedly based on the life of Sampat Pal who formed a vigilante group of women in pink saris in Uttar Pradesh, would cause a “loss of reputation can not be compensated by monetary terms” and stayed release that was scheduled for Friday [IANS]

SC upholds Uphaar cinema fire convictions, passes on quantum: The Supreme Court has upheld the convictions of the cinema owner brothers but has passed onto a three-judge bench the question of how long the Gopal and Sushil Ansar should be jailed for their role in causing the death of 59 in a cinema fire in 1997 [PTI]