Fake News rules: As Congress defends media, PM withdraws new rules

Congress leaders lashed out at Modi Government for amending PIB accreditation rules to fight ‘fake news’; ANI reports that PM Modi has now directed that press release regarding fake news be withdrawn

NH Photo
NH Photo

NH Web Desk

Congress leaders have slammed the Narendra Modi Government after the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on April 2 amended the guidelines for accreditation of journalists to Government’s Press Information Bureau to ‘Regulate Fake News’.

The amended rules say accreditation of the accused correspondent/journalist will be suspended as soon as a complaint of fake news is registered for determination; before even the determination regarding the fake news is made by the Press Council of India and News Broadcasters Association.

“Fascism reaches its ‘nadir’ as a shaky Modi Govt, caught in its web of lies, seeks to muzzle all independent voices in media through fallacious rules!” said Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala. Karnataka Congress chief G Parameshwara said “Irony just died a slow death as Ministry of Information & Broadcasting issued guidelines against Fake News. Wasn't the Postcard News founder arrested for peddling fake news recently? Also, the most important question is: Who has been encouraging fake news in India? Any answers?”

Abishekh Manu Singh said “Suspension of Journalist on mere accusation is a scandal”.

While appreciating the government’s attempt to control fake news, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel asked the following questions of the government:

  1. What is the guarantee that these rules will not be misused to harass honest reporters?
  2. Who is going to decide what constitutes fake news?
  3. Is it not possible that motivated complaints will be filed to suspend accreditation until enquiry is on?
  4. What is guarantee that these guidelines will check fake news or is it an attempt to prevent genuine reporters from reporting news uncomfortable to establishment?

Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani replied with a cheap shot at Ahmed Patel, and added that "whether a News article / broadcast is fake or not will be determined by PCI & NBA; both of whom I’m sure you know are not controlled/ operated by GOI.”

However, shortly after Irani’s tweets, ANI News reported that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed in Press Council of India.

Congress leaders had come out vociferously in support of the media on Tuesday, April 3, slamming the Modi government on the amended rules, equating the move with "fascism”

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Published: 03 Apr 2018, 12:54 PM