The law ministry avowed over four months ago that the controversial section 57 of the ICT Act would be scrapped, but in the ensuing months, several journalists have been sued over petty personal rivalries under the banner of this misguided provision.
So, for the time being, misuse of the law goes on while we wait patiently for the act to be updated.
Moreover, offences filed under section 57 are currently classified as non-bailable, which means the accused, who can be arrested without a warrant, is forced to remain in jail until the legal system, working at a sluggish pace, grants the accused an audience with a judge.
Some 85% of the cases filed under section 57 are eventually dismissed for lack of proof or worse, because the allegations are found to be completely baseless.
In other words, the vast majority of people accused under the law turn out be innocent.
Laws exist to uphold justice, and such rampant abuse of the law does a disservice to our justice system.
The government has reassured the public of their commitment to freedom of speech -- then why does section 57 continue to be a tool of harassment?
We must enact a fair and effective Digital Act as soon as possible, and ensure an environment where laws are never used to silence journalists or crack down on dissenting voices.
A free and fair press is the cornerstone of any democracy, and the abuse of a law cannot be allowed if we are to flourish as the proud democracy that we are.