NEW DELHI, April 3 - Prime Minister Narendra Modi today ordered the I&B Ministry to cancel its contentious guidelines on fake news after widespread criticism and outcry by journalists and opposition who dubbed these norms an attempt to �muzzle� the free press.
Soon after, the Information and Broadcasting ministry issued a statement, saying press release regarding fake news put out by it last night �stands withdrawn.�
In the press release last night, the I&B ministry announced punitive measures like cancellation of accreditation to contain fake news, a decision which was dubbed by journalist and opposition parties as an attempt to curb press freedom ahead of the general elections due by 2019.
�PM has directed that the press release regarding the fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed by the Press Council of India,� a senior PMO official said. The Prime Minister was also of the view that the government should not interfere in the matter, the official added.
Amending the guidelines for accreditation of journalists, the ministry announced norms to contain fake news which said if the publication or telecast of fake news was confirmed, accreditation of the journalist would be suspended for six months in case of first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.
In case of a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the ministry had said.
The I&B ministry decision drew sharp criticism from opposition parties as well as from press bodies.
The Congress said fascism has touched its peak as it sought to �muzzle� independent voices through �fallacious� rules. The AAP and CPI-M likened the situation to the �emergency�. � PTI