Fake news can destroy democracy; comprehensive fact check mechanism needed: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud

Fake news can destroy democracy; comprehensive fact check mechanism needed: Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud

Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud on Wednesday flagged the menace of fake news in the country.

The CJI said that fake news can create rift between communities and has the potential to destroy democracy.

"Fake news can create tensions among communities and there is a need to bridge the gap between truth and the lie. Fake news has the capacity to disturb if not destroy the democracy," he said.

He, therefore, said that a comprehensive fact check mechanism for news is the need of the hour.

The CJI was speaking at the 2023 Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards 2023.

The CJI in his speech also touched upon several issues plaguing the media.

He took a dim view of media trial in criminal cases, stating that media pronounces an accused guilty even before courts.

"It is the job of the media to convey information to the public without violating the rights of the innocents. Responsible journalism is the beacon of truth and it drives democracy forward. As we navigate challenges of digital age, journalists have to maintain accuracy, impartiality and fearlessness in their reporting," he underscored.

The CJI also batted for diversity in news rooms and community journalism.

"Diversified news room is essential for the longevity of the media platforms and newsroom should signify the diverse range of news and journalism cannot be elitist ... Community journalism can help set the agenda for the debate around those issues at the policy level. Several studies have shown that composition of mainstream media is not reflective of all communities in India. Community journalism has opened avenues for the people to be their own voices."

He emphasised that the vibrancy of a democracy gets compromised when the press is prevented from doing its job.

The press must, therefore, remain free and disagreement with a journalist's methods should not turn into hatred or violence, he opined.

"Many journalists work in difficult conditions but are still unrelenting in their work. As citizens we may not agree with the process adopted by the journalists; I myself at times do not agree, but this disagreement cannot become hatred and then take shape of violence," he said.