4 March 2020 2:35 PM GMT
Stating that fake news was the root cause of riots, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking to link Aadhaar with social media to eliminate fake accounts.The SLP has been filed against judgment dated December 9, 2019 in WP (C) 11394/2019 passed by a division bench comprising Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar which refused to...
Stating that fake news was the root cause of riots, a petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking to link Aadhaar with social media to eliminate fake accounts.
The SLP has been filed against judgment dated December 9, 2019 in WP (C) 11394/2019 passed by a division bench comprising Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Justice DN Patel and Justice C. Hari Shankar which refused to entertain the plea.
The Petitioner has pointed out that in the impugned order, the High Court had failed to appreciate that presently total number of twitter handles in India are around 35 million and total number of Facebook accounts are 350 million and as per the experts, around 10% twitter handles (3.5 million) and 10% Facebook accounts (35 million) are fake.
These bogus accounts, he has submitted, are used for proliferation of fake news which is the root cause of many riots including the recent riots in Delhi.
"The High Court has failed to appreciate that fake news is the root cause of many communal riots including the recent riots in Delhi, in which many people lost their lives. Fake social media accounts are used to promote casteism, communalism, regionalism, linguism, radicalism and separatism, which endangers fraternity, unity and national integration", read the plea filed by Advocate Ashini Kumar Upadhyay
The HC had refused to entertain the plea by holding that linkage of Social media accounts with Aadhaar or any other identification proof was a matter of government policy.
"This exercise of drafting of a policy or amendment in the law or appreciation of the report of the Law Commission for linkage of AADHAR/PAN/Voter ID details with social media, all pertains to policy decision to be taken by the respondents. We are not inclined to give any direction to the respondents since Union of India is already deliberating upon this issue, as submitted by learned counsel for the Union of India," it had held.
The petitioner has also pointed out these fake accounts are frequently used by political parties and contesting candidates for self-promotion and other "electioneering activities", even during the 48 hours prior to conclusion of polling.
"Political parties and candidates use fake social media accounts for self-promotion and image building and to tarnish the image of opponent political parties and contesting candidates, especially during the elections.
Court also failed to appreciate that many people use fake twitter handles and Facebook accounts for personal interests such as gaining financial income from one person and blackmailing his opponents," he submitted.
Considerably, Section 126 of the Representation of People Act, 1951 prohibits electioneering activities by way of public meetings, public performances, processions advertisements through television, cinematograph, radio or similar apparatus for a period of 48 hours up to the time fixed for conclusion of poll.
In this backdrop, the Petitioner had prayed before the high court that the words "similar apparatus" in Section 126 must include Web Portals and Social Media so as to curtail political parties from manipulating public at the last minute. He had also sought that political advertisements during last 48 hours before the poll be declared corrupt practice under Section 123(4) of Representation of People Act, 1951.
The present petition also states that fake social media handles are often created in the name of eminent political figures, and are used to mislead public and influence the outcome of elections by spreading fake news.
"The Court also failed to appreciate that there are hundreds of fake twitter handles and bogus Facebook accounts in the name of eminent peoples and high dignitaries including the Hon'ble President of India, Vice President of India, Prime Ministers of India, Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers, Chief Justice of India and the Judges of the Supreme Court and High Courts. These fake twitter handles and Facebook accounts use real photo of constitutional authorities and eminent citizens. Therefore, common man rely upon the messages published from these twitter handles and facebook accounts," the plea states.
The Petitioner has claimed that circulation of fake news not only violates his fundamental right to know under Article 19 of the Constitution but also affects an elector's right to make an informed choice during elections and hindered free and fair elections. It has further been contended that publication of fake news involves use of black money, under-reporting of election expenses of political parties and candidates and indulging in other kinds of malpractices.
"Right to know is integral part of Article 19 and exposure to accurate information is a necessity for electors to make an informed choice, but, fake news has tendency to influence this choice in negative manner. Publication of fake news involves use of black money, under-reporting of election expenses and indulging in other kinds of malpractices. The influence of black money also has the potential to result in an imbalanced election between people of different financial statures. Thus, in order to have free and fair elections, which is a basic dictum of democracy, level playing field is paramount and this cannot be achieved without weeding out fake social media accounts," the plea states.
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