The West Bengal government has decided to come up with a firm law to put an end to fake news. The state government has decided to take measures in wake of the chaos that was created in many parts of the country due to fake news. This move comes as fake social media posts circulation has become a common cause for tensed situations. A senior government official was quoted as saying by The Indian Express that the step has been taken as they don’t want West Bengal to become a totalitarian social media.
“A new law to handle these cases of fake news is what the state of West Bengal requires right now. There are some dirty tricks going on in the state. The drafting of the new law has been done and sent to the law department for perusal. This is being done sensitively — we, of course, don’t want West Bengal to become a totalitarian state. While fake news and inciting violence needs to be punished, simultaneously we need to preserve the freedom of expression and this has been kept in mind while drafting the law,” he said.
The state government plans to come up with clarity regarding punishment and the nature for the ones who disrupt communal harmony and create nuisance in society by creating and circulating fake news, morphed picture and other such things. A data bank has been prepared about fake news being circulated on all social media platforms in West Bengal and other parts of the country in the last few years while keeping in mind the offenders in these years, a home department official told PTI.
The official added that the plan for this new legislation is a result of several reports of fake news circulation and their implication which requires strict laws to deal with it. “There have been several incidents in recent times when posts on social media had major implications. Different sections of the Indian Penal Code are used to deal with cases depending on the nature of the crime or intent of the posts. The state government is trying to come up with a law to take strict actions against persons or the organization found guilty in such activities,” he said.
The state currently books offenders found guilty in such cases with motives of creating menace and disturb the sanity of the society under Sections 505(1)(b) of the IPC. Section 504 is applied when “intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace” is found. For the drafting of this law, the state police are assisting the government. Also, they are taping the sources who fund these fake twitter handles and hire people to circulate such messages.
The official further added, “There is a need to find out the purpose of the posts. Whether the posts are made inadvertently or deliberately. We also need to find out whether there is any wrongful gain by the person or the posts are made only for fun. We have to find out the motive first and depending on that he would be charged.”