After Malaysia, it could be India to crackdown on fake news as the Union government on Monday announced that the accreditation of a journalist can be suspended on the charge of fake news.
“If the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the first violation and for one year in case of a second violation,” according to the guidelines mentioned in a statement.
The accreditation can be cancelled permanently as well if the scribe is found to have “propagated” fake news for the third time.
The two regulatory bodies, the Press Council of India (PCI) and the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) will determine the fake news pertaining in the print and electronic media, respectively, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said in a statement.
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PCI and NBA will complete the determination within 15 days of registration of complaint, the ministry said. However, the ministry didn't reveal who will decide what is fake and what is not.
The move, which can be used as a tool to suppress freedom of the press, triggered massive outrage among the fraternity. Senior journalist Shekhar Gupta termed the move “breathtaking assault” and compared it with former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s proposed anti-defamation bill.
"Make no mistake: this is a breathtaking assault on mainstream media. It's a moment like Rajiv Gandhi's anti-defamation bill. All media should bury their differences and resist this," Gupta tweeted.
The Opposition Congress questioned the government’s intent behind the move. Congress Rajya Sabha MP Ahmed Patel asked whether the move was “an attempt to prevent genuine reporters from reporting news uncomfortable to establishment.”