An old Whatsapp forward claiming that under the Disaster Management Act, no one apart from the government department is allowed to post, update or share any forward related to Coronavirus and that it is a punishable offence to do so.
The Whatsapp forward is shared with a link to a Live Law article titled, “Centre seeks SC direction that no media should publish COVID-19 news without first ascertaining facts with govt.” to give credibility to the message.
Newschecker received this message on its Whatsapp verification helpline number which reads, “Mandate for All: Tonight 12 ( midnight) onwards Disaster Management Act has been implemented across the country. According to this update, apart from the Govt department no other citizen is allowed to post any update or share any forward related to Corona virus and it being punishable offence. Group Admins are requested to post the above update and inform the groups. Please adhere this strictly. https://www.livelaw.in/top-stories/centre-seeks-sc-direction-that-no-media-should-publish-covid-19-news-without-first-ascertaining-facts-with-govt-154601”
The same message has also been shared in Hindi.
“आज रात्रि 12 बजे से सम्पूर्ण भारत में आपदा प्रबधन ऐक्ट लागू किया जाता है। इसके अंतर्गत सरकारी विभाग को छोड़कर अन्य किसी भी व्यक्ति को कोरोना से जुड़े संदेश या पोस्ट करने पर दंडात्मक कार्यवाही की जायेगी | सभी ग्रुप ऐड्मिन अपने ग्रुप में बतायें”
Fact Check / Verification
There is no such order passed by the Supreme Court which bans individuals from posting or sharing “any” information related to the novel coronavirus. In April 2020, Live Law published an article debunking this false message.
The Live Law report linked in the Whatsapp forward was published on 31 March and spoke of the Central government seeking a direction from the Supreme Court that no media outlet must print, publish or telecast any information related to Coronavirus “without first ascertaining facts from the mechanism provided by the government.”
“The report has no connection with the fake message. It is clear from a bare perusal of the report that it does not convey the news as sought to be spread through the fake message, “ reads the fact check by Live Law.
“This court is pleased to issue a direction that no electronic/print media/ web portal or social media shall print/ publish or telecast anything without first ascertaining the true factual position from the separate mechanism provided by the Central government,” read the affidavit uploaded by Live Law.
Further, the legal news portal also called out the false Whatsapp forward on Twitter writing that “A Fake message with the link of a @LiveLawIndia report is still going viral in WhatsApp Groups. Pls do not share it.”
On 24 March 2020, the day Indian went into a 21-day lockdown, the Central government said that the Disaster Management Act was being invoked to deal with COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
A week later the Supreme Court passed an order stating, “Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 provides for punishment to a person who makes or circulates a false alarm or warning as to disaster or its severity or magnitude, leading to panic. Such person shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to one year or with fine.”
Evidently, the claim in the Whatsapp forward does not fall under Section 54 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Additionally, the fact-checking wing of the Press Information Bureau also tweeted about the misinformation shared in the Whatsapp message.
Our research makes it clear the viral Whatsapp message claiming that under the Disaster Management Act, no one apart from the government department is allowed to post, update or share any forward related to Coronavirus, is misleading. A Live Law report was shared with this claim to add credibility.
Affidavit uploaded by Live Law: https://www.livelaw.in/pdf_upload/pdf_upload-371969.pdf
Live Law’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/LiveLawIndia/status/1247168556485103617?s=20
Ministry of Home Affairs: https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/MHAorder%20copy.pdf
Press Information Bureau Fact-check: https://twitter.com/PIBFactCheck/status/1245643028951228416
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