6 Districts In This State Have Banned Whatsapp, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter For Being Illegal News Platforms
It seems like the Haryana government doesn’t consider social media news as a legit source of information.
No lesser than six Deputy Commissioners in Haryana have banned social media news platforms, alleging them to spread unverified and misleading news, which may hamper peace and state-of-mind of many connected on social media, in the already disturbed times of cornonavirus.
Let’s shed some more light on the topic.
What is this ‘Social Media News’ Ban all About?
At least 6 DCs of Haryana state believe that social media platforms publish unverified news, which mess around with mental states and tranquility of masses, in an already disturbed pandemic environment.
Some platforms like WhatsApp, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Telegram and Public App have been banned for publishing ‘social media’ based news, by some DCs of Haryana.
They include DCs of Sonipat, Kaithal, Charkhi Dadri, Karnal, Narnaul and Bhiwani.
Charkhi Dadri DC was the 1st to Ban Social Media News
After the DC of Charkhi Dadri issued the 1st order of such nature, to ban any alleged social media published news, exercising his powers as district magistrate on May 12, 2020, his steps were followed by other DCs of Haryana too.
The latest such move is taken by the Karnal DC.
He has banned such platforms for 15 days on July 10, while the remaining five have imposed the restrictions “till further orders”.
What is the Reason Behind this Move?
The Sonipat DC Shyam Lal Punia issued an order to the SC in regards to the move on June 16, according to which:
“No social media platform in Sonipat has taken permission to function as a news channel. They neither got registration from the Directorate of Information and Public Relations of Haryana government nor from Commissioner of Information and Broadcasting Ministry of the Union government.
There is a possibility of (spread of) fear among a large section of the society in this abnormal circumstance of coronavirus pandemic because of intentional or unintentional fake news or wrong reporting from the news channels of social media.
So it is necessary to get registered from any regulatory body for functioning of a social media platform as a news channel.”
These restrictions have been impose under IPC Section 188, Disaster Management Act 2005, along with Epidemic Disease Act, 1957, the violation of which, may lead to jail term and penalty.
What Do Activists Think of the Ban?
Human right activists of Haryana have a completely defying outlook to this decision of state DCs.
They called the ban imposition as ‘undeclared emergency’, an attempt to ‘silence the voice of social media’ and ‘arbitrary and unconstitutional’.
Sukhvinder Nara, a human rights activist and a lawyer by profession, says:
“Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution gives guarantee of freedom of speech and expression which includes freedom of media. The action of authorities is violation of this constitutional provision.
The DCs concerned have quoted an order of the Supreme Court while imposing the restrictions but the apex court did not order any ban on the social media news platforms.
A careful perusal of the SC judgment, as cited in the ban order, reveals that the apex court has merely asked the central government and state governments to stop the fake news.
It seems that the district magistrates have misinterpreted the SC order and imposed the ban without cogent reasons.”
He confidently poses that in events of any social media news channel publishing any kind of fake news related to the Covid-19 situation, the officers must act against it, filing a FIR against the channel.
However, this being said, they do not hold any authority over banning any operation performed by social media news channels, in an otherwise situation.
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