Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Censorship of web sites

There are attempts to censor web sites and prevent anything against the government being said or written. Kapil Sibal first raised the issue. It was said morphed pictures defaming individuals were shown to journalists. One picture showed Sonia Gandhi shouting at Manmohan Singh. It was said there was material that can hurt religious sentiments and lead to riots. There were protests against censorship and Kapil Sibal said he was not for pre-censorship.

One man went to court against 21 web sites. He claims to be a journalist. When he appeared on English TV channels for discussions he spoke in Hindi. If he does not know English does he understand what is in web sites? If he knows English he should speak in English on English channels and anchors must make sure of that. Many people have no doubt that he is a government agent. The petitioner gave the example of cartoons of Islam’s founder. The petitioner’s name suggests he is not a Muslim. If Muslims get offended due to something it is for them to approach the court. Muslims are either unaware of the cartoons or do not care. Who appointed him to argue on behalf of Muslims? How much the petitioner is paying to his lawyer?

One judge said like China we can block web sites. In China there is death penalty for corruption. It is nice if the judge says like China we can sentence to death corrupt public servants.

If someone is defamed by anything posted on web site he/she can go to court and sue for damages of 100 crore rupees and win the case as happened in one case.

Some say IT Act is unconstitutional as it restricts the freedom of speech and expression granted by the constitution. So far no one has challenged the validity of IT Act.

There have been no riots in India due to something posted on internet. Religion is used as a cover to stifle criticism against the government.

Google and Facebook are particular targets. Google is a search engine. It shows sites where someone can find something particular. Facebook is a social web site where people post about themselves or their opinions. If someone does not like something he does not have to see it or read it.

Bans are justified by saying no freedom is absolute and necessity of maintaining law and order. Trouble makers are not arrested. Criminals who announce money to people who blacken the face of an author or throw shoes at him or murder an artist or cartoonist are not arrested. It seems authors and artists have no absolute freedom but criminals who are against them have absolute freedom.

It is time somebody challenged the validity of public interest litigation.

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