NDTV Frauds: Will Javadekar Take A Cue From Irani?
The Narendra Modi government at one point of time had come out with a circular to potentially put an end to the fake news menace.
The government had amended the guidelines for accreditation of journalists to fight fake news. According to the provisions, any complaint pertaining to fake news was supposed to be resolved within 15 days the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association.
Once the complaint was registered, the accreditation of the concerned journalist was to be suspended till the resolution of the complaint.
If the complaint of such fake news was found to be true, accreditation of the guilty journalist would be cancelled for six months. On the second instance, the cancellation period would increase to one year, and on third occasion, the journalist would lose his or her accreditation permanently.
This was a welcome step to crack misinformation, but the fake news peddlers, who celebrated the arrest of Mahesh Hegde for the same purpose, had raised their ante against the circular.
Next day, the Modi government withdrew the circular saying that such decisions should be taken by PCI and NBA.
This bold step taken by the then Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani was laudable, for simple reason that she, at least, made a sincere effort to take on the fake news peddlers by horn.
If she would have continued to hold this portfolio, the NDTV frauds case could have reached its logical end – seeing channel owners – Prannoy James Roy and Radhika Roy, behind bars.
Unfortunately the case, which was reopened in 2015 under Modi Raj, was quashed by the Supreme Court on grounds that the government notice was outside the limitation period of six years, as per first provision of Section 147 of the Income Tax.
This is a very sorry state of affairs in the Information and Broadcasting Ministry led by Prakash Javadekar, that it sat on the file without doing much, when the situation demanded that strict action should have been taken against fake news ringmaster NDTV, which led a propaganda by provoking Muslims against Citizenship Amendment Act that culminated into Delhi riots.
Their propaganda still chugs on, this time meandering around 21-day national lockdown. They want to see Modi fail in his efforts to check the spread of Chinese virus.
Though NDTV claimed that the Supreme Court had given clean chit to them in the frauds case, a careful reading of the verdict shows that it has given liberty to the government to assess the channel’s Rs 405.09 crore undisclosed income by resorting to another provision relating to foreign assets, where the limitation is extended to 16 years.
The NDTV case relates to Rs 405.09 crore jotted down in 2008-09 in the books of NNPLC, a UK-based subsidiary of NDTV.
The amount was nothing but NDTV’s own undisclosed income, as per Income Tax Department.
It is alleged that NDTV had re-routed the undisclosed sum over three assessment years (2007-08 to 2009-10) through its subsidiary companies with the ultimate destination being the parent company.
With the fresh notice already served to NDTV, it is expected from Javadekar to be as tough as Smriti Irani and bring the case to its logical end and soothe people’s anger over fake news peddling, when the country is facing an invisible enemy – the Chinese virus.