Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country. As per the act, apart from the government departments, no other citizen is allowed to post or share any forward related to the novel coronavirus.
A message is doing rounds on social media claiming that from midnight onwards, the Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country, as per the act, apart from the government departments, no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to the novel coronavirus as it is a punishable offense, so admins are requested to inform their group members.
Several readers sent the viral message to Newschecker’s WhatsApp helpline number for verification.
First of all, we checked what the Disaster Management Act says about sharing or updating any message in the group. According to section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, Whoever makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic, shall on conviction, be punishable with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine. However, nowhere we found any provision which mentions that apart from government departments, no other citizen can post any update or share any forward related to a disaster.
During our search, we found the notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs, issued on March 24, 2020, the day when the lockdown was announced. The notification issued stated that the Disaster Management Act, 2005, is being invoked to deal with the novel coronavirus. However, nowhere it was mentioned that no other citizen can post or share any forward related to a disaster.
While fact-checking the claim, we found an order passed by the Supreme Court in a case related to the migrant workers. The order also reiterated that Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act can be used to punish those who spread false information.
While searching the reality of the viral message, we came across the Government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB). PIB Fact Check, the official Twitter handle of the Press Information Bureau department that counters misinformation on government policies, denied the viral message and said,” Messages circulating on social media claiming-apart from Government, no citizen is allowed to post and forward update on COVID19- is Misleading and false. PIB Fact Check also urged social media users to seek authentic information from its site and that of the Health Ministry.
It is evident from our fact check that the Disaster Management Act does not restrict the citizens to share messages on the novel coronavirus. The message that is viral on social media is false.
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