Mains Paper 2: National
Prelims level: Fake news
Mains level: Issues and challenges towards solving the fake news problem
The frequency with which journalists have been arrested since the
outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is quite disturbing.
The reasons given by the police across India for arresting reporters and
editors of news portals indicate that special provisions enacted to prevent
the spread of rumour during disasters are being used to suppress reporting
on political developments and possible governmental corruption.
Arrest of Journalist:
The most egregious case involves a criminal provision that governments
invariably fall back upon to suppress dissent. The arrest of Dhaval Patel,
editor of a news portal in Gujarat, on the serious charge of sedition, is a
shocking instance of misuse of criminal laws to intimidate journalists.
The case concerned an article speculating that State Chief Minister of
Gujarat may be replaced by the ruling party of the state for his alleged
inept handling of efforts to combat the pandemic.
The report had even named a possible successor. It is befuddling how
such a report could amount to sedition, regardless of whether the
speculation is true.
Oftentimes, the source of such speculation is a disgruntled section of
the ruling party itself, and it is excessive to punish reportage with
inadequate verification with arrest and prosecution for sedition.
Mr. Patel has also been charged under Section 54 of the Disaster
Management Act for allegedly spreading panic through a false alarm
concerning a disaster.
Misuse of criminal laws:
The Editors Guild of India has seen a “growing pattern” in the misuse of
criminal laws to intimidate journalists. The concern is not misplaced.
In the Andamans, a reporter was arrested for a social media post
claiming people who had contacted a COVID-19 positive patient over phone
were also being quarantined.
In Coimbatore, police arrested a .............................
In normal circumstances, the authorities ought to be content with
getting their version or response to be carried by the news outlets
concerned, and not seek to use the pandemic as an excuse to curb
Use of sedition law to fight fake news is an attempt to suppress
Q1. With reference to the ACE2 enzyme, consider the following
statements: 1. It responds to the novel coronavirus and enables it to infect the human
2. The new, large study of several thousand patients found men have higher
concentrations of ACE2 in their blood than women.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct? (a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
(c) Both 1 and 2
(d) Neither 1 nor 2