Patna: As per a recent circular issued by Bihar police's Economic Offences Unit, 'serious action' will be taken against individuals who post 'offensive comments' in online space against the government in Bihar. The circular warns that "indecent and objectionable comments" against MLAs, MPs and Ministers will be booked under the IT Act.
IG Nayyar Hasnain Khan also issued letters to all the Secretaries of Bihar State Government. The letter states that the Economic offences Unit (EOU) is a nodal agency to prevent cybercrime. In the letter, all the Principal Secretaries and Secretaries were requested to bring "such matters" to notice so that "suitable legal action can be taken" against the individual or organizations.
According to the Police officials in EOU, "It has regularly been coming to light that certain persons and organizations have been making offensive comments through social media and Internet against government, honourable ministers, MPs, MLAs and government officials as well, which is against prescribed law and comes under cybercrime laws. For this act, it seems appropriate to take action against such organizations and individuals."
However, the new decision by Bihar Government sparked controversy in the state. Human rights activists claim, "JDU-BJP coalition government forcing the state towards curbing freedom of speech on internet". As a response to the backlash, Jitendra Kumar, the Additional Director General headquarters told in a press meet, "Criticism is healthy for democracy. But criticism must be constructive and the language used must fall within the norms of decency."
In October 2020, a similar section was proposed by the Kerala Government under the Police Act. However, the government withdrew the decision following a backlash.