Will CJI Take Fake News Peddlers To The Cleaners?
Expressing concern over spread of fake news on Chinese virus in media, Chief Justice of India S A Bobde enquired whether the government has powers to punish people spreading fake news on the crisis.
“Are there any provisions under which the government can take action and punish people spreading fake news on the crisis?” CJI asked the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.
The CJI also directed the Centre to set up a portal within 24 hours for dissemination of real time information on the coronavirus pandemic to counter the panic being spread through fake news.
The direction comes in the wake of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s indulgence in petty politics, lying and spreading rumours, risking the lives of migrant workers amidst Chinese virus outbreak.
Kejriwal government came under severe criticism for plying DTDC buses to transport thousands of migrant workers to Uttar Pradesh border, causing a grave public health crisis.
The Yogi Adityanath government quickly swung into action, operating 1000 buses to drop them to their respective destinations.
An FIR was registered against Aam Aadmi Party MLA Raghav Chadha for creating enmity, hatred and ill will in the society and also defaming Yogi Adityanath by claiming that his government was beating up migrants who were leaving from Delhi to Uttar Pradesh.
In yet another fake news episode, Shekhar Gupta’s ThePrint had published an article claiming extension of three-week lockdown by a week. The centre had announced lockdown from March 24 to April 14.
ThePrint had claimed that the centre was rethinking of the duration of lockdown by quoting three un-named officials.
However, Prasar Bharati, India’s public broadcaster, refuted the claims and clarified that the government has no such plans in motion as of now.
In yet another bizzare fake news episode, The Quint indulged in fear-mongering by twisting an opinion of an individual claiming that India was in the middle of community transmission of coronavirus. The ultra-left portal also called him a doctor, though he was an engineer in reality.
However, Gyani exposed The Quint’s lie as he told ANI that he did not make any such comments and the headline had blown his remarks out of proportion.
“In fact, I said that luckily till today the increase in the number of cases is pure arithmetic, while in the community spread its goes geometrically or exponentially,” which the Quint twisted his statements to propagate as if India was in the middle of community transmission.
The biggest lie peddled by Quint was Dr Gyani being part of the meeting of prominent doctors and healthcare providers chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 24. The Indian Council of Medical Research, however, clarified that Dr Gyani was not part of the expert group.
In yet another fake news churn, The Caravan’s Executive Editor Vinod K Jose had published an article claiming that India’s Chinese virus test is expensive compared to other nations.
In fact, the propagandist editor’s claims are laughable because he compared the costs of private laboratories in India with government labs in other countries.
The tests in India’s government laboratories are done free of cost. Not only that, the treatment for Chinese virus patient is also free in India.
So-called journalist Rana Ayyub had shared an image of some men made to squat and hold their ears as punishment.
Ayyub had tweeted that the laborers were punished for violating the lockdown in Delhi. But, later deleted it after getting enlightened that the image was not of laborers being punished, but of those who broke the curfew some times back in Kanpur.
The same image was also shared by so-called historian and author William Dalrymple with similar claims and later deleted the post.
Yet another journalist with Times of India, Kanwardeep Singh, had shared a video of Uttar Pradesh Police spraying people with disinfectants claiming that the spray would potentially kill them.
The objective of the disinfectants is to kill the virus on the clothes of individuals, if present.
The spray does not harm people, but the journalist gave the impression that the authorities were jeopardizing the health of migrant workers.
The deadly Chinese virus has been on a rampage world over and countries are imposing sweeping restrictions to curb its spread and reduce the burden on their respective public health systems and bring down deaths.
However, pathological hatred towards Narendra Modi has caused them to dump their senses and go about their propaganda, even if it entails jeopardising lives of millions of innocent people.