The Telangana government, on March 31, 2020, warned perpetrators of fake news on the various social platforms of severe consequences for spreading fake news amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a government statement by Dileep Konatham, Director, Digital Media, IT Electronics & Communications (ITE&C) Department, a jail term which may extend to one year may be imposed on admins of WhatsApp groups in which members post misinformation and false news. "As the coronavirus has spread at an alarming pace, very limited information is available from competent authorities and agencies. This has led people to spread fake news, misinformation and rumors – some out of sheer ignorance and others with mischievous and malafide intentions
.", the statement said.
The statement also said, "Ironically, spreading of fake news, misinformation and rumours has become another pandemic posing a great challenge for the Governments so much so that the World Health Organisation (WHO) calling the phenomenon an Infodemic
," The government draws this power from Section 505(b) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860
which states: Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report, with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both