Govt withdraws order on fake news

Cong sees victory of democracy, VHP criticises Centre’s move
Report by: 
3 Apr 2018

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry today withdrew its contentious press release on fake news after a directive from the Prime Minister's Office
"PIB Press Release titled 'Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists amended to regulate Fake News' issued on 02 April 2018 stands withdrawn," the ministry said in a brief statement. Taking note of condemnation from various quarters, the PMO had ordered the ministry to withdraw the release, holding that the decision on what amounts to fake news should be left to press bodies According to official sources, the PMO also felt that the government should not interfere in the matter. The ministry had on Monday announced measures to contain fake news saying the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe is found generating or propagating fake news.
The amended guidelines stated that if the publication or telecast of fake news was confirmed, accreditation of the journalist would be suspended for six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation. In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the information and broadcasting ministry said in a release However, the press release did not define what is fake news. Hours after the official release on Monday, Congress leader Ahmed Patel had questioned the government's attempt to check fake news, asking whether it was aimed at preventing journalists from reporting news uncomfortable to the establishment. Congress president Rahul Gandhi today charged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a U-turn on his "own order" on fake news, and said one could clearly see "a loss of control and panic setting in". "Sensing mounting anger on the 'fake news' notification, the PM orders a U-Turn on his own order. One can clearly see a loss of control and panic setting in now," Rahul said on Twitter.
The Congress chief also used the hashtag, "BasEkAurSaal", to suggest that the Modi dispensation has only one year left in power. The next general elections are due in early 2019. Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said today that the Centre's withdrawal of a press release on 'fake news' within 24 hours of issuing it was a victory of democracy and the media.
Through the press release on fake news, the information and broadcasting ministry had attempted to bring restrictions on the media's autonomy, he alleged. "The government had to withdraw it (the press release) within 24 hours and this is a big victory of democracy and the media. I congratulate all journalists who unitedly opposed the decision," said Vikhe Patil, the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
"In the name of fake news, the government had sought to impose restrictions on the autonomy of the media," he said in a tweet posted in Marathi. Meanwhile, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) today condemned the Centre's move to amend the guidelines for accreditation of journalists in case of fake news, saying that the step amounted to an "undeclared emergency". Stating that media was the fourth pillar of democracy, VHP international working president Pravin Togadia said curtailing their voices in any name was dangerous to citizen rights. "We strongly condemn this undemocratic move by the government. This is nothing but an undeclared emergency," he said in a statement. Without taking names, Togadia said those who opposed "such emergency" for 52 yrs were behaving this way after coming to power. "This is shocking and horrific," he said.
The Congress said fascism has touched its peak as it sought to "muzzle" independent voices through "fallacious" rules. The AAP and CPM likened the situation to the 'emergency'.