‘Crack down on fake news on social media’

Tehseen Poonawalla, petitioner in the mob lynching case, after the Supreme Court order, in New Delhi on July 17, 2018.

Tehseen Poonawalla, petitioner in the mob lynching case, after the Supreme Court order, in New Delhi on July 17, 2018.   | Photo Credit: R.V. Moorthy

Noting that the State cannot turn a deaf ear to the “growing rumblings of its people” against lynchings, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the Centre and the States to take immediate steps to stop the dissemination of fake news or stories on social media, which has tendency to whip up a mob frenzy.

The court ordered the State governments to have a special task force to procure intelligence on people “likely” to spread hate speeches, provocative statements and fake news” in each district.

The district-level nodal officers should hold regular meetings with their local intelligence units to identify the existence of the tendencies of vigilantism, mob violence or lynching in the district and take steps to prohibit instances of dissemination of offensive material on social media.

Areas with a five-year history of lynchings should be identified in each district within the next three weeks. Nodal officers in districts shall take steps to eradicate hostile environment against any community or caste.

The court said the police shall register an FIR under Section 153A (promoting enmity) of the IPC against the suspects. If found guilty, a person faces up to five years of imprisonment. The trial shall be held in a fast-track court on a day-to-day basis and completed in six months. The court said the courts should grant maximum sentence to guilty persons to make an example of them and serve as a deterrent.

The judgment directed the Central government to issue appropriate directions/advisories to the States to reflect the gravity of the situation.

The State governments have been given a month to prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme with due regard paid to the nature of bodily injury, psychological injury and loss of earnings including loss of opportunities of employment and education and expenses incurred on account of legal and medical expenses and so on.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 9:56:07 AM |

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