In the times of corona, an order from the Mumbai Police prohibiting the circulation of fake news and content “derogatory and discriminatory towards a particular community” or “causing panic and confusion among general public”, has driven BJP MLA Mangal Prabhat Lodha to file a petition before the Bombay High Court challenging the constitutional validity of the order.
Issued by Pranaya Ashok, Dy. Commissioner of Police, on 23 May, the order states that people designated as “Admin” on messaging and social media platforms and “shall be personally responsible for any such information being disseminated from a group administered by them”. It shall be the personal responsibility of the “Admin” to report any such malicious, incorrect or derogatory content posted by a member of the group to the Police immediately.
“We do not agree with this order. It is absolutely wrong. It is exactly like the Emergency period,” Lodha told Mint. Lodha is BJP’s Mumbai president. The hearing on the matter is due in two days, he said.
In the petition, Lodha has said the order is “so vague there are no guidelines for authorities on its implementation and is creating panic and an unjustified and harsh gagging effect on freedom of speech”.
The police order effective from May 25 to June 8, “prohibits any person inciting mistrust towards government functionaries and their actions taken in order to prevent spread of the covid-19 virus and thereby causing danger to human health or safety or a disturbance to the public tranquillity”. Any person contravening this prohibitory order will be prosecuted under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, says the order.
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