New Delhi, Apr 4 (PTI) The Indian Newspaper Society (INS), an apex body of the print media industry, today welcomed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to turn down the stringent guidelines on fake news issued by the information and broadcasting ministry.

After widespread criticism by journalists and opposition (parties), who realised this was an attempt to curb and control the freedom of press, the prime minister finally withdrew these draconian guidelines on fake news, the INS said in a release.

Soon after the directive of the prime minister yesterday, the ministry issued a statement withdrawing within 24 hours its amended guidelines to check fake news.

“The INS is also anguished over the recent unreasonable and biased decision of the Chairman, PCI, while selecting the names of persons to be nominated as members for a fresh term, the INS added.

It expressed its strong disapproval of the “strategic manipulation” of the entire process of nominating names which it said “displays a lack of understanding of the PCI Act and RNI Act , a reference to the Press Council of India and the Registrar of Newspapers in India.

It is imperative that mature responsibility and neutrality is now displayed, even at this late stage, to restore the credibility, impartiality and prestige of the Press Council of India, the INS said.

Amending guidelines for the accreditation of journalists, the ministry had on Monday announced norms to contain fake news. It said if the publication or telecast of a fake news item was confirmed, the accreditation of the journalist behind the news would be suspended for six months in the case of a first violation and for one year in case of a second violation.

If there was a third violation, his or her accreditation would be cancelled permanently, the ministry had said in a press release.

The ministry norms had also said that any complaint of instances of fake news would be referred to the PCI, if it pertains to print media, and to the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), if it relates to the electronic media, to determine whether the news item was fake or not within 15 days.

Once the complaint was registered for determination of fake news, the accreditation of the journalist, whoever created and/or propagated the fake news, would be suspended till the determination regarding the fake news was made, the ministry had said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.