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SUPREME COURT’S STAY ON GOVERNMENT’S FACT-CHECK UNIT



  Mar 29, 2024

SUPREME COURT’S STAY ON GOVERNMENT’S FACT-CHECK UNIT



Why did the Supreme Court issue a stay on the government’s fact-checking unit?

The Supreme Court issued a stay due to concerns about the freedom of speech and expression. The Court noted that the matter involves serious issues related to the freedom of speech guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution, and the impact of the rules on this fundamental right needed careful examination.

What is the government’s fact-checking unit?

The government’s fact-checking unit, referred to as the Press Information Bureau’s (PIB) fact-check unit (FCU), was tasked with identifying and countering misinformation about government policies and initiatives on social media.

What amendments to the IT Rules is the government seeking?

The government is seeking amendments to the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Amendment Rules 2021, which could potentially mandate digital platforms to remove content identified as “fake news” by the FCU.

What does the Bombay High Court’s split verdict mean?

The Bombay High Court delivered a split verdict, with one judge taking a stance against the government’s position, and the case being referred to a third judge for a decision. The interim stay by the Supreme Court came before this third judge could make a decision on the FCU’s validity.

What has the Fact-Check Unit done till now?

Since November 2019, the FCU has been involved in fact-checking misinformation on various platforms, including WhatsApp forwards, videos, and digital media articles. It has busted 28,380 instances of fake news between November 2020 and June 2023.

What were the petitioners’ arguments against the FCU and the IT Rules amendments?

The petitioners, including individuals like stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra and entities like the Guild of India Magazines Editors, argued that the amendments to the IT Rules and the operation of the FCU would violate the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. They also contended that the amendments lacked procedural safeguards and increased government control over digital content.

What will happen after the Supreme Court’s stay?

Following the Supreme Court’s stay, the Bombay High Court is expected to continue its hearing on the FCU’s validity. The outcome will determine the future functioning of the FCU and the implementation of the amended IT Rules.

This overview provides answers to common questions related to the Supreme Court’s stay on the government’s fact-check unit and the surrounding circumstances.


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