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The Pandemic is Amplifying India's Fake News Crisis?

Abhinav Shukla, Student, Ajeenkya DY Patil University, Pune




Ever since the coronavirus explosion was first reported in Wuhan, China. Social media outlets have been overrunning by posts related to the disease. At the beginning of February, when India reported a boost in regards to cognition spread in relation to disease, social media came up with a large number of post pertained to COVID-19 varying from information related to COVID-19 outbreak to the spreading untested treatment for the disease.

Now, with a Nationwide lockdown being imposed across the Nation, these misleading posts result in creating panic and frustration. Moreover, this fake news results in a violation of the privacy of an individual as medical records of that particular individual are being willfully disseminated. Also, some false medical reports have also been generated for some individuals, and people started suspecting them of having the disease and socially boycotting them. Hence, such fake news makes difficult for peoples to shift from fake news to real news. It is the duty of every individual to use technology and social media to help in educating peoples.

Despite many warnings and strict actions many vicious minds continue to create fake news. As whatsapp being one of the most used social media platform these fake news spread like a bullet across various groups. There must be a proper awareness programme related to this and to make every section of society aware of the law and regulations.

India's poultry Industry v. Coronavirus

One of these false medical reports that had a devastating and far-reaching impact on the Indian economy was that chicken consumption was the source of COVID-19.

This has had an extremely detrimental effect on the poultry industry in India, causing staggering losses in the range of 1,500 to 2,000 cuts per day, with prices going from almost Rs 180 per kg of chicken to Rs 70 -80. This not only removes the already battered and battered Indian economy, but also leads to the death of inhuman chickens and farmers resort to actions such as burying day chickens in pits because they do not want to continue. power when demand is silenced. in the near future.

"Gaumutra" against Coronavirus

False claims of "gaumutra" or cow urine as a remedy for COVID-19 have gone viral. This false news went viral when "Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha", a right-wing organization in India, organized a "gaumutra" party in the national capital. About 200 participants drank cow urine and ingested a mixture of cow manure, urine, milk, curd and butter to get rid of the coronavirus.

These cow urine feasts have also taken place in other states, including Calcutta, where a man who drank cow urine fell seriously ill with nausea and vomiting. The organizer, the leader of the West Bengal BJP, Narayan Chatterjee was arrested.

Minister Sam Jarpriya told the recent state assembly that gaumutra can be used to treat COVID-19. While the whole case can be viewed as misunderstood, it is important to understand that politicians exert significant influence over their supporters and deeply influence their beliefs and actions. Although these people receive excessive media coverage for cow dung and urine-related lovemaking, thousands of people have been affected by the consumption of cow urine to prevent infection and may have had health problems due to pathogens. There must be a higher threshold of responsibility for people in positions of power not to peddle such fake news. In times like this, it is important that the top leadership make it clear to their ministers that their opinions on medical cures are not to be shared.

Clearly, fake medical news has far-reaching consequences, ranging from the downgrading of industries to material damage to human life. In such a situation, the most important thing the Indian government can do is establish programs in all sections and panchayats to ensure that its citizens are aware of the dangers of fake news.

A notable example of what an individual in question can do in a position of power is that of IPS officer Rema Rajeshwari. To ensure that false news regarding the lynching did not take place under his jurisdiction, he took up the challenge of educating his officers and those who may create false information, how to identify them and think critically when a news is transmitted, falsified or he used innovative methods, such as using popular songs and traditional storytelling techniques, to ensure that the information was easy to understand.

Legal aspects of India's fake news crisis

Law enforcement agencies have the legal authority to prosecute anyone who spreads rumors about the virus and causes panic in the general population. Although India currently has no specific laws to deal with threats of fake news, we still have legal provisions under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, etc. which can be invoked in case of misinformation. Some existing legal provisions are as follows:


Section 505 (1) of the Indian Criminal Code, 1860: punishment for making, publishing or disseminating any statement, rumor or complaint that could frighten or alarm the public or any section of the public.

Penalty: imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine or both.


Article 66D of the law on information technologies: whoever, through any communication device or computer resource, is deceived by the representation.

Penalty: detention for one of the descriptions for a maximum period of three years and will also be liable to a fine, which can be extended to a lake of rupees.


Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005: anyone who triggers or circulates a false alarm or warning about a disaster or its severity or magnitude, which leads to panic.

Penalty: imprisonment of up to one year or a fine.


But the need for legal provisions for fake news in IT law is more crucial than ever. What is certain is that many people simply transmit everything they receive on their devices through "Look, I just saw it!” pure emotion and ignorance.


Conclusion


The legal implications of this serious act are often not understood in many areas, which argue that everything that goes through their portable devices must be true and important. This requires an awareness program, in which IT law must take the initiative and have the support of institutions and companies. Clearly, a concerted war against the coronavirus must be fought on several fronts. False news about the pandemic is a critical front.


India has adequate laws and regulations to deal with fake news, but don't you think it is everyone's duty to do their part and help the government stop the spread of fake news? Sections 505 and 188 of the IPC and section 3 of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 relate to the communication of false news, but these laws do not coincide with the dissemination of persons who publish false news which must be changed.

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