fake news

In this article, Shivendra Pandey of NLUO discusses how to use the legal system to stop the menace of the of fake news.


India a country with more than 50,000 newspapers, 400 news channels, thousands of online news portals, lakhs of blogs, social connection platforms, and countless other news feed sources. In the present world people are constantly exposed to different news feeds from different sources. It is difficult for a reader to know the authenticity of any such feeds and condition becomes more grave when it is published by a news disseminating source. A lot of times they fall prey to such fake news.

“Internet” is a world in itself, innumerable data is being circulated every moment called as cyber traffic. A significant part of this data is in form of news making people aware of happenings all around the world. There are chances that individuals come across a lot of fake news. All nations all around the world in some way or the other witness fake news but it is the responsibility of the government to take appropriate steps to curb such news. In a democratic country like India media acts as the fourth pillar of democracy. Even before independence Newspapers like Kesari, Vande Mataram played a key role in awakening and strengthening the freedom struggle. But with the advent of technological advancements T.V news channels, online media became the main source for instant and breaking news. We see a lot of news and information trolling all over the internet and especially social media like viral whatsapp hoaxes. There have been many instances where news have been declared spurious and fake. Some of the recent most controversial fake news cases in India and legal recourses available against such fake news are discussed in this article.

JNU Student Najeeb Jung searching for ISIS

There was a news in the media about Najeeb Ahmed a JNU student on the frontpage of a newspaper stating that he was searching about ISIS on internet about lSIS online which caused a huge hue and cry all over the media and internet as well the boy had had to face lot of criticism. However, later it was found by the police that there was no record of such online searches and police expressly denied veracity of the news. Even after such findings by the police there was no apology, clarifications or response made by the Newspaper and this news is still trolling on social media. Such irresponsible behaviour of news portals can put lives of the people in peril.

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New Indian Currency notes with inbuilt chip

During the Indian currency demonetisation process when new notes were going to be introduced in the economy a lot of news channels carried stories like “New Rs 2000 Notes with GPS Chip”. Later RBI had to pass clarification that no such inbuilt chips have been installed in the new notes.

Why there are no Muslim Characters in Film “Bahubali”?

Recently, a viral photo on WhatsApp suggesting that Newslaundry‘s Madhu Trehan had an issue with the ‘Baahubali’ film as it did not have any Muslim characters and the makers need to answer this. It trolled all over the social media. Especially on the right-wing news sites and social media. However, Trehan vehemently denied the veracity of any such statements. The above-mentioned image kept trolling all over media. It was  Alt News in a piece which pointed out that Trehan had never said any such thing.

How to curb this menace of Fake news? What are the remedies available?

Complaint Indian Broadcast Foundation

IBF was established in 1999 to fulfill the Simple Need. At present 650 Channels has been broadcasting 24×7 365 days. To look after and regulate these channel’s IBF has founded. If anyone wants to complaint against any TV Channel than IBF will solve these problems.[1]

If any channel under the IBF broadcasts any kind of serial which promotes smoking, abuse or any kind of violent activities then user can register complaint to IBF India via online or offline mode by Filing a Complaint Form. Complaint Form in English-http://www.ibfindia.com/sites/default/files/pdf/Complaint_Form_BCCC.pdf

Complaint Form in Hindi-http://www.ibfindia.com/sites/default/files/Complaint_Form_hindi.pdf

Online Complaint Form Link is http://www.ibfindia.com/node/2

Complaint to National Broadcasting Standards Authority

The News Broadcasters Association (NBA) is a body representing the private television news & current affairs broadcasters. It is the collective voice of all the news & current affairs broadcasters in India. It is funded completely by its members.

Presently NBA has 23 leading news and current affairs broadcasters as its members (consisting of 62 news and current affairs channels) as its members. The NBA acts as a unified and credible voice before the Government, on matters affecting the industry. A person can file a complaint against any of the members of the NBA.[2]

Complaint to Broadcasting Content Complaint Council

A Complaint can be filed against any objectionable T.V content or fake news to Broadcasting Content Complain Council if it incites communal disturbance, violence against women or gender specific, child abuse, contains coarse scenes of violence, criticizing any religion, creates superstition, encourages consumption of drugs or any other prohibited product etc., For more details please follow: https://blog.ipleaders.in/how-to-file-a-complaint-against-objectionable-television-content-in-india/.

Complaint under Section 153 or 295 of IPC

If a fake news can be termed as hate speech, in that case, an FIR can be filed under 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 295 (Injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class) Indian Penal Code.

Civil or criminal suit for Defamation

If a person finds a fake news defamatory he/she can file a civil or criminal case for defamation. For more information follow: A guide to civil and criminal cases of defamation.

What steps can be taken?

At present India doesn’t have any separate legislation to deal with instances of fake news. As many scholars and eminent organisations have suggested creating an ombudsman body to regulate and cross-check the activities of Indian media especially the news segment. Further the existing bodies like PTI, NBSA, Broadcasting Content Complaint Council, needs to make structural changes and take stern actions against the News agencies, online portal and other news disseminating sources violating the rules passed by these bodies. Further, there should be strict and expeditious implementation of all the actions taken by these bodies to deter any future mischievous acts. Even the courts should ensure speedy justice to all the grievances against any fake news circulating bodies.

We need to establish institutions like “Cross Check” (a consortium of 37 publishers mainly from Britain And France) which acts as a watchdog to keep the media accountable as well as formalisation of news and information through social media. It is necessary to take concrete steps in order to eradicate this menace. News agencies and other information sources have far reaching effects on all spheres of our life. It acts as a guiding source for public as well as the government, it has immense power.


[1] BF India (BCCC) Customer Care Contact Phone Number, Office Address, Email Id, Accessed on 8 May 2017, Available at:http://customercaresupportinfo.in/ibf-india-bccc-customer-care-contact-phone-number.html.

[2] News Broadcasting Association, About us, Accessed on 8 June 2017. Available at: http://www.nbanewdelhi.com/about-nba.


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