SRINAGAR: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has directed the Principal Secretary Information Department to take appropriate action expeditiously against the news portals running without proper license/permission.
The Division Bench of Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice D S Thakur closed the PIL which was filed in view of mushrooming of news portals on social media without following the procedure governing the field.
Court has directed the petitioner to approach the concerned authority with a detailed representation giving suggestions therein for stopping the mushrooming of news portals on social media. “In the event, the petitioner so submits the representation and the suggestions, the Government and the Principal Secretary, Information Department would be free to consider the same and take an appropriate action most expeditiously as may be permissible in law”, the Divisional Bench directed.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by Gen. Sect. J&K Peoples Forum M M Shuja about the mushrooming growth of news agencies on social media especially the news portals which are involved in circulating “fake” news, it was alleged in the plea that in the Union Territory, several such news portals like Kashmir News, Kashmir Voice, Kashmir Breaking News, News Kashmir 24/7, Kashmir Business Hub and Bol Kashmir etc. are operating freely without any registration or license from any authority and these news portals are not under supervision and control of any authority whatsoever.
There are multiple news agencies and whatsapp / facebook/ YouTube news channels and other electronic news agencies operating in both the regions which are actively engaged in the transmission of various types of news bulletins and reports, the High Court was informed.
In absence of any permission having been granted by the competent authority for running a news portal it is sufficient to infer that there is no proper, legal and regulatory mechanism in place at present with the result a state of confusion prevails on the subject as to the genuineness of any news transmitted by such channels/ portals. The Facebook and WhatsApp journalists have now moved a step ahead by blackmailing the Government as well as private officials, civil contractors etc on a daily basis.
The Deputy Commissioners of Ramban and Budgam had already taken note of the swelling of news portals/pages etc. and their involvement in the spreading of fake news and indulging in blackmailing of Government officers. (KDC)