The Central government yesterday directed all state governments to create a portal with information about COVID-19 “where people can verify facts and unverified news promptly”. A similar portal is being created by the Central government, as per Supreme Court directions. States have to submit an action taken report to the Home Ministry before the next hearing in the case takes places on April 7.
The Supreme Court had yesterday directed the media to refer to and publish the official government version of developments around COVID-19. “We do not intend to interfere with the free discussion about the pandemic, but direct the media refer to and publish the official version about the developments,” a two-judge bench led by Chief Justice SA Bobde had ordered. To this end, the Central government will start a daily bulletin within 24 hours, the court had said. During the hearings, the Central government had asked the court to order that no media outlet should print, publish, or telecast anything on the COVID-19 pandemic without first ascertaining facts from the mechanisms provided by the government.
The Centre had submitted that the exodus from the cities was triggered by panic due to fake news about COVID-19 in India, including that the current lockdown would last three months. In a status report on the migrants, Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla had said that “any deliberate or unintended fake or inaccurate reporting” in print, electronic, or social media would trigger panic. “It is therefore not possible for us to overlook this menace of fake news either by electronic, print or social media,” the court had said.