‘Communalising of news a problem, brings bad name to country’: Supreme Court

The SC was hearing a petition filed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind seeking action against those responsible for disseminating "fake news", which links the spread of Covid-19 with the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at the Markaz Nizamuddin.

The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed concern over fake news being spread over social media platforms and web portals stating that they exhibit no accountability.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana was hearing a batch of petitions, including the one filed by Jamiat Ulema-i-Hind, seeking directions to the Centre to stop the dissemination of “fake news”, which links the spread of Covid-19 with the Tablighi Jamaat gathering at the Markaz Nizamuddin, and take action against those responsible for it.

The bench noted that “web portals are not governed by anything. There is an attempt to give communal colour to news and that is the problem. It ultimately brings bad name to country.”

The Chief Justice also stated that social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube don’t respond to judges and write against institutions without any accountability. Ramana added that they only respond to “powerful voices.”

“There is no control over fake news and slandering in web portals and YouTube channels. If you go to YouTube, you will find how fake news is freely circulated and anyone can start a channel on YouTube,” the bench remarked.

To this the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta responded that the new Information Technology Rules, 2021 seek to “take care of this.” He requested the court to list the transfer plea before the Supreme Court in the matter related to IT Rules. “Different High Courts are passing different orders. Your Lordship can have a holistic picture, as it is an all-India issue,” the Solicitor General stated.

The apex court allowed the petitioners to amend pleas seeking action against media for communalising Nizamuddin Markaz issue. The Centre’s plea seeking the transfer of all cases challenging the IT Rules in different high courts to the Supreme Court was also listed along with the same petition. The matter will be heard in six weeks.

— with inputs from PTI, Bar and Bench

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