I and B ministry withdraws order on fake news following PM’s intervention
New Delhi, April 4: Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention on Tuesday (April 4), the Information and Broadcasting Ministry cancelled its controversial order on fake news to punish journalists for purveying alleged fake news, said media reports.
“PM has directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed by the Press Council of India,” an official statement said.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry order had drawn widespread protests from media and opposition parties.
In the statement issued on Monday night, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry announced punitive measures like suspension and cancellation of accreditation of journalists to contain fake news.
Amending the guidelines, the ministry said accreditation of journalists found guilty of creating and propagating fake news would be suspended for six months in the case of first violation and for one year in case of a second violation. If an offender was held guilty of creating or propagating fake news a third time, the government said such a person’s accreditation would be cancelled permanently.
The move triggered criticism over the order on fake news with many journalists and opposition parties seeing it as an attempt to curb press freedom ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Meanwhile, in a strongly worded statement, the Editors Guild said the PM’s direction scrapping the order did not go far enough to allay all concerns. It said the recent rejig of the Press Council of India raised doubts over its impartiality.
Minutes before the PMO’s directive to withdraw the order came, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani tweeted what appeared to be a position different from the stand she had taken the day before.