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POLICY REPORT IV

Web Freedom and Criminal Libel in India

Statutes of criminal libel are widely considered to be inconsistent with a free society, but India is one of many constitutional republics to have them on the books. In 2012-13, Indian police arrested numerous social media users and bloggers under the umbrella of the Information Technology Act of 2000, the Indian Penal Code of 1860, and the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act of 1971. Public perception of the executive actions was overwhelmingly negative.

This monograph by Nikhil Moro engages with existing theories in freedom of expression and public policy to frame legal controversy in the arrests. It uses a dialectical approach to discuss the Indian media’s policy in light of constitutional “reasonable restrictions” as interpreted by the Supreme Court of India, finally drawing from the discussion a set of ten normative suggestions of structural, content, and attitudinal reform for the Indian system of freedom of expression.

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