While Facebook and Whatsapp are facing big heat and are finding it tough to satisfy the government, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), on 28 September 2018, asked private TV channels to run warning against lynching.
This is in pursuance to the Supreme Court’s July order to broadcasters that telecast of lynching and mob violence of any kind shall invite serious consequences under the law.
The MIB’s statement said: "While Doordarshan is already implementing the decision, for ensuring widest possible outreach of the directions of the apex court, it is advised that private satellite TV channels may also run as scroll the two messages as given below in public interest.Mob violence and lynching is a heinous crime and invites serious consequences under the law. Mob violence and lynching is a serious criminal offence and invites stringent punishment under the law."
Sometime back, the Home Ministry also asked all states to make the general public aware that mob violence of any kind will invite serious consequences under the law.
Fake news is the mother of all lynching:
On 2 October, the Information and Broadcasting Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore said the government is trying to find ways to stop the spread of fake news, and will ensure that restrictions imposed in this regard are minimal and don’t breach people’s privacy.
He said: “We are a democracy that thrives on the fact that people can, and must, have difference in opinion. The government will always keep in mind that whatever restriction is brought about is minimal, without breaching privacy, and at the same time, protecting the citizens.”
The Minister added: “It is a very delicate, catch 22 sort of a situation, and I am sure the IT ministry and Sri Ravishankar are engaged with various platforms to ensure there is self-regulation that comes about.”
The Minister wants a collaborative approach between the government and society to curb fake news. “I call this the fifth generation of warfare. We have men and women fighting to protect us along the borders, but they are only physically fighting. It is now easy for anyone who wants to disrupt our lives to cross these borders and enter our homes. This disinformation warfare has always existed, but now it is just very easy to spread disinformation.”
He said that MIB is reaching out to people, but everything cannot be left to the government. As parents, we must talk to our children about this. Journalists have a code of conduct for themselves. In a society we always have a code of conduct, a sense of grace that we must all follow. It has to be a collaborative effort.
Tips by Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court had also condemned mob lynching incidents across the country and urged Parliament to enact a law to deal with the crime that threatens rule of law and the country’s social fabric.
For preventive, remedial and punitive steps, the apex court gave some tips:
The state governments shall designate a senior police officer in each district for taking measures to prevent incidents of mob violence and lynching.
The state governments shall immediately identify districts, sub-divisions and villages where instances of lynching and mob violence have been reported in the recent past.
The nodal officers shall bring to the notice of the DGP any inter-district co-ordination issues for devising a strategy to tackle lynching and mob violence related issues.
It shall be the duty of every police officer to cause a mob to disperse, which, in his opinion, has a tendency to cause violence in the disguise of vigilantism or otherwise
Central and the state governments should broadcast on radio and television and other media platforms including the official websites that lynching and mob violence shall invite serious consequence.
Curb and stop dissemination of irresponsible and explosive messages, videos and other material on various social media platforms. Register FIR under relevant provisions of law against persons who disseminate such messages.
Ensure that there is no further harassment of the family members of the victims.
State governments shall prepare a lynching/mob violence victim compensation scheme.
Cases of lynching and mob violence shall be specifically tried by designated court/fast track courts earmarked for that purpose in each district. The trial shall preferably be concluded within six months.
To set a stern example in cases of mob violence and lynching, the trial court must ordinarily award maximum sentence upon conviction of the accused person.
If it is found that a police officer or an officer of the district administration has failed to fulfil his duty, it will be considered as an act of deliberate negligence.