According to the latest National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, incidents of “false/fake news” and spread of rumours, an offense under the Indian Penal Code, saw a nearly three-fold increase in 2020 compared to 2019.
A total of 1,527 cases of fake news were reported in the pandemic year – an increase of 214 per cent – as against 486 cases in 2019 and 280 in 2018, when the category was first included.
Telangana with 273 cases tops the list of states followed by Tamil Nadu (188) and Uttar Pradesh (166). Hyderabad tops the list of cities with 208 cases, followed by Chennai (42) and Delhi (30).
While addressing fake news has been crucial in curbing the spread of the virus, several states have labeled those spreading fake news alarmed over the lack of beds and oxygen.
In April, UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said that the stringent National Security Act would be invoked against social media posts on the lack of oxygen. In April 2020, a local BJP The leader was booked under sedition after he allegedly posted Facebook Urged people to donate as there were “no ventilators” to treat Covid patients in Ludhiana.
Section 505 of the IPC, a comprehensive provision relating to “statements promoting public mischief”, penalizes the acts of spreading rumors and spreading false news. “Whoever makes, publishes or disseminates any statement or report with the intention of making or promoting rumor or dangerous news on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community, or who makes or promotes or on any other ground, feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both, “It says.