On Wednesday, 14th October 2020, a public interest litigation petition was filed by a social worker at the High Court of Madhya Pradesh. While reviewing the aforesaid plea, the High Court of Madhya Pradesh refused to put a blanket order on the fake news on social media platforms and stated that “The petitioner has not been able to point out any statutory provision of law which entitles the publicity department to have a check on such news.”
The petition was by a social worker. IN the PIL, the petitioner stated that a lot of unchecked news was being circulated through social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. and sought
- The court to issue orders banning fake news channels and fake journalists running misinformation through the social media platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube, etc. without permission of information and public relations department.
- Actions to be taken against the aforementioned elements under penal provisions
- Appropriate action to be taken by the information and public relations department and deputy magistrate of Ujjain restricting such activities in the future.
The bench hearing the case consisted of 2 judges: Justice S.C Sharma and Justice Shailendra Shukla. After hearing the plea, the court declined the admission saying that the petitioner has not been able to point out any statutory provision of law which entitles the publicity department to have a check on such news and further added that in case, any crime is committed, the petitioner is certainly free to take recourse to the statutory provisions and in case there is any violation of any other statutory provision of law, which has not been pointed out by the petitioner in the present petition or before this Court, the petitioner is free to take recourse to other legal remedies.
The court thus refused any other remedy or any ‘blanket order’ against social media platforms stating “In a Public Interest Litigation, this Court by a blanket order cannot restrict the circulation of news on WhatsApp, Facebook, etc. on the basis of wide allegations leveled by the petitioner.” Recently, the Supreme Court had refused to review and order passed by it which sought the framing of guidelines to curb the spread of fake news through social media as well as print and electronic media. In 2019 as well, Advocate Anuja Kapoor had filed a PIL which highlighted the use of social media for spreading fake news in the wake of India-Pakistan tension. However, the Court refused to entertain this petition and it was dismissed.