Certain sections of media communalise everything, bring bad name to country; says SC

Expressing serious concern over fake news on social media, web portals and YouTube, the Supreme court on Thursday ruled out that a section of media gives communal colour to news bringing bad name to the country, which listen only to the powerful voices and not judges and institutions.

While hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, a bench led by Chief Justice N V Ramana made these strong observations and sought directions to the Centre to stop dissemination of “fake news” related to the religious gathering at Nizamuddin Markaz in 2020 and take strict action against those responsible for it.

Everything is shown with a communal angle by a section of media, Namana said, adding the country is going to get a bad name ultimately. “Did you (the Centre) ever attempt to regulate these private channels”.

“If you go to YouTube, so much is shown in one minute. You can see so how much fake news there is. Web portals are not governed by anything. There is an attempt to give communal colour to news and that is a problem. Ultimately it brings a bad name to the country,” the Chief Justice said.

In response, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre said, “Not only communal but also planted news” and the new IT Rules have been framed to regulate content online and web portals.

The Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind had filed a plea in the Apex court seeking directions for the Central government to stop dissemination of “fake news” related to a religious gathering at Markaz Nizamuddin.

The Jamiat alleged that the unfortunate incident was being used to “demonise” and blame the entire Muslim community and sought to restrain the media from publishing/airing such reports.

A Delhi court had discharged 36 foreigners, who were chargesheeted for attending Tablighi Jamaat congregation in March last year. The foreigners attending the congregation were accused of accelerating the spread of Covid-19, with its attendees carrying the infection to different parts of the country.

On August 24, the court had framed charges against the foreigners under sections 188, 269 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 3 of Epidemic Act, 1897. The charges were also framed under section 51 Disaster Management Act, 2005.

However, they were acquitted for the offences under section 14 (1) (b), sections 270 and 271 of IPC.

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