Maharashtra Cyber Police Wednesday sent notices to over 100 individuals for publishing defamatory content against “prominent persons” on social media. The notices, sent under section 149 CrPC, are a “final reminder” that repeating such action will result in a cognisable offence.
“We have observed that certain users are using social media platforms for posting offensive/ abusive/defamatory/malicious posts. Maharashtra Cyber Police Department…is issuing a notice under section 149 CrPC to all such users posting offensive messages to refrain from doing so as it is an offence under Information Technology Act,” a note issued by the Maharashtra Cyber Police said. “…Any user found violating the provisions of the said laws will have to face strict penal action. We will be issuing separate notices individually, to users posting offensive messages in their inboxes,” it said.
An officer said this was the “last opportunity” for those regularly posting hateful and defamatory content including “paid users” to stop doing so before the police begins “a campaign to take legal action” against such offenders. A source said the cyber police was monitoring people who were regularly using abusive and defamatory content against prominent functionaries including Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
When contacted IG (Cyber) Yashasvi Yadav told The Indian Express, “We have realised that people have been spreading hatred online during such sensitive times. They feel the internet is anonymous and they can malign anyone’s reputation without facing any repercussions. These notices have been sent to them to make them aware that what they are doing is an offence under the law and they can end up spending up to three years in prison.”
Earlier, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh said these notices would also be issued to those posting content defaming any woman. “In a state that follows the legacy of Savitribai Phule, we will not tolerate any posts that make women feel unsafe,” Deshmukh had said.
He said that in reference to a tiktok video that promoted acid attack against women. Yadav said the police had written to tiktok and the profile of that person had been deleted. So far, Maharashtra has registered 400 cases of cyber crime, with Beed topping the list with 40 offences.
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