Centre for Communication Governance at NLU delhi
Indian Case Law

Secy., Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, Govt. of India v. Cricket Assn. of Bengal, (1995) 2 SCC 161

While speaking of the right to receive information, the Supreme Court made important (though obiter) observations on misinformation and disinformation on paragraph 82 of the judgment. The Court held: “One-sided information, disinformation, misinformation and non-information all equally create an uninformed citizenry which makes democracy a farce when medium of information is monopolised either by a partisan central authority or by private individuals or oligarchic organisations.” These observations were later repeated in Union of India v. Assn. for Democratic Reforms, (2002) 5 SCC 294.

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Tehseen S. Poonawalla v. Union of India, (2018) 9 SCC 501

The Supreme Court laid down guidelines to curb the spread of fake news which incites the public and leads to violence and mob lynching. These include appointment of nodal police officers at district level who are responsible for obtaining reports on individuals likely to indulge in fake news, mob violence and hate speech, to curb spreading of violent content on social media, as well as directions for remedial and punitive measures after the consequences of such violence.

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Hamdard Dawakhana v Union of India, (1960) 2 SCR 671

The Supreme Court held that “misleading” advertisements that claimed certain drugs had magical or other remedies led to the use of fake drugs and a dangerous increase in self-medication, which worsened public health and safety. The Court held that commercial advertisements aimed at promoting a business are not protected speech and that the same can be restricted to prevent the circulation of fake information regarding characteristics of certain drugs and medication.

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