FAKE NEWS AND ITS LEGAL CONSEQUENCES

FAKE NEWS AND ITS LEGAL CONSEQUENCES AMIDST PANDEMIC

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Spreading of fake news in India is so common these days, spreading of fake news is not something which started recently in India the only difference with spread of fake news of before and now is that now it reaches to more and more number of people, which before was not possible because of less internet connection available, less number of cell tower, less number of people active in social media and many more reason.

Now days it is so common and so normal to receive a fake news in social media platforms or in some websites or through phones. This became possible because more and more people got attached to internet and technology spread quickly and people adapted to it. According to one report by statista.com in the year 2015 there were 302.36 million internet users in India and in the year 2020 there are 696.77 million internet users in India and they have predicted that by 2025 there will be 974.86 million internet users in India, which surely is a huge number and a lot of people.

Lets take an assumptions that one guy A created a fake news, now lets assume that he sended to 9 of his friends and out of 9 friends all of them saw it belived in it and forwarded to 9 of their friends (keeping in mind that none of each other have a common friends they all are sending to their friends which are not common in any of friends list), now in total the news has reached to 81 people, now those 81 people will send it to another 9 of their friends and none of them have a common friend now the total has reached to 729 and like this this number goes on increacsing.

We can see that how this fake news reaced from 9 persons to 729 persons and it keeps on going. If any one or more that one person would have not forwared it then the number would have been less than what it is now. One small change can affect so much.

Now in India there are many laws made against spread of fake news. Fake news plays a vital role in creating a panic to the people. Fake news also leads to disbelief and confusion. In 2015 when earthquake hit most of the Nepal and states close to Nepal there was a huge loss and fear among people and fake news created a panic among many of the people, there was a lot of news going on about another earthquake which was even of higher magnitude than the previous one and was going to hit in midnight. This fake news created a lot of panic among people, after so much of panic among public government had to send a message to people alerting them to not to believe in any kind of fake news that is been sent on any of social media platform and to report it directly to the police.

There are many laws which are made against spreading of fake news.

  1. Section 505(1) of Indian Penal Code, 1860:

The punishment for making, publishing or circulating any statement, rumor or report which may cause a fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of public is liable of an offence.

Now the punishment for this is imprisonment up to 3 years or fine or both.

  • Section 66(D) of Information and Technology Act, 2000:

Whosoever, by means of any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating is liable of an offence.

Punishment for this offence can go imprisonment up to specified period which may extend to 3 years and shall also be liable to a fine specified which may be up to 1lakh rupees.

  • Section 54 of Disaster and Management Act , 2005:

Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic is liable of an offence.

Punishment for this offence is imprisonment which may extend up to 1 year or with a fine.

Md. Azizur Rahman Choudhary vs State of Assam, 11 Feb 2020

Md. Azizur Rahman Choudhary, an editor in newspaper  spread a fake news about a Bengali origin muslim boy that he killed and raped a Hindu girl. Police after investigating did not find anything similar to what Md. Azizur has said and was found guilty for spreading fake news and is currently under custody.

CONCLUSION

Government has taken some measures to stop spreading of fake news, government notifies their citizen through text messages about fake news being spread and ask them to be aware and not to believe any kind of fake news. In this pandemic situation we need to be aware and need to be together and be aware. Government alone cannot stop spread of fake news citizen needs to be aware of the situation and they have to stop spreading the fake news.

  • Vaibhav Prakash

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