See More on Facebook

Politics

India drops proposed fake news laws

The Indian government has dropped controversial plans for a fake news law targeting journalist after pushback from the media.


Written by

Updated: April 4, 2018

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 3 ordered the withdrawal of a day-old move to punish journalists guilty of manufacturing “fake news”.

The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting issued a statement on April 2 proposing to strip journalists circulating “fake news” of their government accreditation, an important identity card needed to report official events and have access to key ministries and offices.

Indian journalists criticised the move, which they saw as another attempt to curb the freedom of press ahead of the crucial 2019 general elections.

India has slipped several notches on the freedom of press index, with those in power openly calling journalists “news traders” or “presstitutes”. In 2017 alone, two journalists were killed, there was a raid on a recognised media house and a defamation case slapped on a prominent digital platform known for its critical reporting on the government.

In its latest report, Reporters Without Borders, which listed India as slipping three places to 136th in World Press Freedom Index, highlighted concerns that Hindu nationalists were “trying to purge all manifestations of anti-national thought”.

Following Modi’s directive, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani tweeted that the matter of fake news should be within the purview of the Press Council of India. Barely 24 hours earlier, she had announced in a statement that the government would cancel the accreditation of journalists who peddled “fake news”.

“PIB (Press Information Bureau) Accreditation Guidelines asking Press Council of India & News Broadcasters Association to define & act against ‘fake news’ have generated debate. Several journalists & organisations have reached out giving positive suggestions regarding the same,” Irani tweeted.

The Indian Express cited sources as saying that the Prime Minister’s Office was “not consulted” and was unaware of Irani’s directive until it became public. Many see this as a snub for Irani.

Many pointed out the measures outlined by Irani gave virtually no scope to journalists to defend themselves against allegations of peddling fake news.

Veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta opposed the muzzling of the media in a tweet, “Make no mistake: this is a breathtaking assault on mainstream media. It’s a moment like Rajiv Gandhi’s anti-defamation bill. All media shd bury their differences and resist this.”

The Press Club of India, Indian Women’s Press Corps, Press Association and the Federation of Press Clubs of India issued statements welcoming the withdrawal of the order. “There is ample scope for introspection and reform of journalistic practices; yet, a government fiat restraining the fourth pillar of our democracy is not the solution,” it said.



Enjoyed this story? Share it.


Lamat R Hasan
About the Author: Lamat is an Associate Editor at Asia News Network.

Eastern Briefings

All you need to know about Asia


Our Eastern Briefings Newsletter presents curated stories from 22 Asian newspapers from South, Southeast and Northeast Asia.

Sign up and stay updated with the latest news.



By providing us with your email address, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

View Today's Newsletter Here

Politics

Modi defends citizenship decision

PM Modi says it has nothing to do with Indian Muslims. Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, that unity in diversity is integral to India while addressing ‘Aabhar Rally’ at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan today to kick start Bharatiya Janata Party’s Delhi Assembly Elections campaign slated for early next year, amid protests in Delhi and all over the country against the contentious Citizenship Act and the National Register of Citizenship(NRC). Modi raised slogan of ‘vividhta me ekta, Bharat ki visheshta’ (Unity in diversity is India’s speciality). PM Modi while giving his party and government’s view on CAA and NRC said, “Muslims being misled, I have always ensured that documents will never come in way of development schemes and their beneficiaries.” Citizenship law and NRC have nothing to do with Indian Muslims or with Indian citizens, he clarified. “We have never asked


By The Statesman
December 23, 2019

Politics

Rallies rage on in India over citizenship law

Thousands of students flood streets of Delhi; Assam state sees five protesters shot dead. Thousands of university students flooded the streets of India’s capital yesterday, while a southern state government led a march and demonstrators held a silent protest in the north-east, to protest against a new law giving citizenship to non-Muslims who entered India illegally to flee religious persecution in several neighbouring countries. The protests in New Delhi followed a night of violent clashes between the police and demonstrators at Jamia Millia Islamia University. People who student organisers said were not students set three buses on fire and the police stormed the university library, firing tear gas at students crouched under desks. Members of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party said opposition parties were using th


By The Straits Times
December 17, 2019

Politics

Japan: Koizumi offers no concrete plan on coal

The new environment minister needs to offer better ways to tackle climate change.  During a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday, Shinjiro Koizumi, the Environment Minister did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation. Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi did not express concrete steps for reducing coal-fired thermal power generation, for which construction of new plants is currently underway in Japan, during a ministerial meeting of the U.N. climate summit in Madrid on Wednesday. “I am afraid I cannot share new development on our coal policy today,” Koizumi said at the ongoing 25th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate


By The Japan News
December 13, 2019

Politics

Power transition after Apec summit

Mahathir open to stepping down after APEC summit. Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the world’s oldest prime minister, has promised to hand over power to anointed successor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in spite of new sexual assault allegations against him. Dr Mahathir, 94, said he would not hand over before a summit of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) countries that Malaysia is to host in November 2020, but could be ready after that. “I made a promise to hand over and I will, accepting that I thought that a change immediately before the Apec summit would be disruptive. “As far as I’m concerned, I’m stepping down and I’m handing the baton to him (Anwar). If people don’t want him, that is their business, but I will do my part of the promise… irrespective of whatever allegation. I made my promise, I keep my promise, ” he said in an interview w


By The Star
December 11, 2019

Politics

Communist Party of China calls for efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up

Political Bureau stresses importance of winning three critical battles in 2020. The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee called on Friday for solid efforts to deepen reform and expand opening-up, amid tensions in the external environment, to ensure that the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects will be attained next year. The general trend of China’s economy in maintaining stable and long-term positive operation remains unchanged, according to a statement released after the bureau’s meeting, presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. China will keep its economic growth within a reasonable range in 2020, with more “forwarding-looking, targeted and effective” policies, the statement said. The nation will pursue a policy framework that allows macro policies to be stable, micro policies


By Esther Ng
December 9, 2019

Politics

Najib to take the stand today

The former premier is accused of malfeasance. Today is the day that Malaysians will see, for the first in the country’s history, a former prime minister take the stand to answer charges against him in a court of law. Datuk Seri Najib Razak (pic), 66, will testify from the witness box as the first defence witness to rebut his seven charges of misappropriating RM42mil in SRC International Sdn Bhd funds before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali. According to his co-counsel Harvinderjit Singh, Najib will be called as the first witness on the opening day of the defence’s proceedings. Najib will be first questioned by his defence during examination-in-chief before being cross-examined by the prosecution. On Nov 11, Justice Mohd Nazlan ordered Najib to enter his defence on three counts of criminal breach of trust (CBT), three charges of money laundering and on


By The Star
December 3, 2019