Senior Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil said on Tuesday that the Centre’s withdrawal of a press release on ‘fake news’ within 24 hours of issuing it was a victory of democracy and the media. Through the press release on fake news, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had attempted to bring restrictions on the media’s autonomy, he alleged.
“The government had to withdraw it (the press release) within 24 hours and this is a big victory of democracy and the media. I congratulate all journalists who unitedly opposed the decision,” said Vikhe Patil, the Leader of Opposition in the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly.
“In the name of fake news, the government had sought to impose restrictions on the autonomy of the media,” he said in a tweet posted in Marathi. On Monday, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry said the accreditation of a journalist could be permanently cancelled if the scribe was found generating or propagating fake news.
Once the complaint is registered for determination of fake news, the accreditation of the journalist, whoever “created and/or propagated” the fake news, will be suspended till the determination regarding the fake news is made, the ministry had said. However, the press release did not define what is fake news.
The guidelines drew sharp reaction from the opposition Congress and journalists. The Prime Minister’s Office today ordered the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to withdraw its press release on fake news, holding that the decision on what constitutes fake news should be left to press bodies.
According to official sources, the PMO felt that the government should not interfere in the matter. Follwing orders from the PMO, the I and B ministry withdrew the guidelines to regulate fake news.