Following the massive controversy that broke out on Tuesday over the government's notification (which has since been cancelled) on Fake News, the Press Council of India, which the Prime Minister charged with reining in the menace, has issued its own notification.
PCI chairman Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad has issued a release titled "Response of Chairman on Fake News".
In the release, he provides a definition of fake news and also states that there is nothing wrong with a government cracking down on fake news so long as the authority entrusted with doing so is independent. He states that the Press Council of India is an appropriate body in this regard.
"Fake news means news, story, information, data and reports which are wholly or partly false.
No prudent person should or can justify the dissemination of fake news. Fake news is a global menace and if any government intends to take remedial steps to check its spread, per se, there is nothing wrong or obnoxious about it, provided that the authority to decide the truthfulness or otherwise of an allegation of fake news is entrusted to an independent statutory body like, the Press Council of India.
The complaint of fake news is registered as complaint by council. Such complaints are filed by an individual, the Government of any other aggrieved person and are dealt by the Council following the laid down procedure in the Press Council Act and Press Council (Procedure of Inquiry) Regulations. However, it is only in gross cases of fake news or repeated involvement in fake news dissemination that power to suspend or cancellation of accreditation of the journalists be resorted to. The allegations needs to be determined by the Council before any action is called for."
Earlier, a massive debate had broken out following the I&B Ministry seeking to change the guidelines of accreditation for journalists, penalising them for reporting fake news. Opponents of the move attacked the government, terming it an attempt to muzzle the media. The Prime Minister stepped in and had the notice withdrawn, entrusting the responsibility to clamp down on fake news on the Press Council of India.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani had tweeted on the matter: