The total number of Wuhan Coronavirus cases in the country have risen precipitously. Over 400 active cases are reported from across the country, with Maharashtra leading, closely followed by Kerala. As many as 34 cases have been discharged or cured nationally and 9 deaths have been reported so far. In the wake of the spread of the virus, most states imposed lockdowns and heavy restrictions on intra and interstate travel. India has suspended all domestic flights, except solely cargo-carrying flights, effective March 25. “The operations of domestic schedule commercial airlines shall cease operations effective from the midnight that is 23.59 hours IST on 24/3/2020,” said a communication from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Most states have now notified the Regulations for prevention and containment of Coronavirus Disease-2019 (COVID-19). While the media has reported that according to these stringent rules, not following the lockdown can land one in jail for 6 months, what they have not reported is that anybody spreading rumours about the Wuhan Coronavirus spread can also land in jail for 6 months.
In the notification issued by most states now, a rule clearly stands out.
The above excerpt is taken by the rules notified by the State of Odisha. It reads that no person/institution/organisation will use any print or electronic or social media for dissemination of any information regarding Covid-19 without ascertaining the facts. The rule essentially says that if anyone including an organisation is found indulging in such activity, it will be treated as a punishable offence under these regulations.
The Rules and Regulations notified further says that any
The rules then say that anyone found violating the provisions of these regulations shall be deemed to have committed an offence punishable under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code.
If any person who violates the regulations cases obstruction, risk or injury, they can be imprisoned upto 1 year, however, if their disobedience caaases danger to human life they can be imprisoned for upto 6 months.
Considering the risk of the spread of Coronavirus, it is thus reasonable to assume that any disobedience of the regulations imposed by the state may invite imprisonment of upto 6 months along with fine, which includes spreading fake news through traditional media, electronic media or even social media.