The Prime Minister's Office has advised Ministry of Information and Broadcast to withdraw its press release on provisions to punish journalists for fake news, adding that any decision on such matters should be taken up by Press Council of India for print and National Broadcasting Association in case of electronic media.
The order issued last evening had said that journalists could be denied government access just on the accusation of fake news and they could lose their accreditation for a limited period or permanently.
The PMO statement came hours after several media persons and politicians slammed the order as an attempt to control the media in an election year.
Congress leader Sheila Dikshit also denounced the order and alleged that it was Centre's attempt to propagate only pro-government news.
"What is the definition of fake news? In a democratic system, restricting media is equal to killing democracy. Today, we only get to see news that is pro-govt. India has believed in free media and that should continue," Dikshit said.
Responding to angry tweets, Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani had said today that she was "more than happy to engage with journalists or organisations wanting to give suggestions so that together we can fight the menace of 'fake news' and uphold ethical journalism".
The ministry statement had said that as per the amended guidelines for the accreditation of journalists if the publication or telecast of fake news is confirmed, the accreditation of that journalist would be suspended for a period of six months in the 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 information and broadcasting ministry said in a release issued last night.