Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar informed on Tuesday that the examination of social media posts will now be made part of the verification process for passport and arms license applicants. Kumar was addressing the state Police Officers Conference held at Dehradun.
The state police shall keep a record of the social media behaviour of applicants. If their posts dissent against government policies and laws, they will be disqualified during the mandatory police verification process required for clearing passport and arms license applications.
The police team will observe the person whose social media posts seem to compromise India's sovereignty and security. People will be categorized into 'nationals', and 'anti-nationals' and those listed in the latter category will be ineligible for bank loans, government jobs, government contracts, character certificates etc.
"There is a clause in the passport law not to issue the document to anyone indulging in anti-national activities. I have only spoken in favour of its enforcement," Kumar said.
Though the state police claim that the law is to keep people with a criminal record at bay, its announcement has stirred controversy as it allows the government and police to pry into the actions and privacy of people on the internet and use their posts against the person for government's vested interests.
Likewise, lawyers opined that this is an outright infringement upon people's freedom of expression and dissent. They mentioned it is the court's job and not police to term people as 'national' or 'anti-national'.