Reacting to arrests of several persons in Tamil Nadu for allegedly circulated rumours regarding Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s health status, National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson Justice H.L. Dattu has said arrests may not be the answer and that there were other avenues for checking rumour-mongering.
“Arrest “may not be the answer” to stop rumour-mongering over the health of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa”, said Dattu, who is also former chief justice of India.
“Since the punishment (for speeding rumours) may be under (IPC section) 500 (defamation) or 505 (causing public mischief), arrest may not be the answer.
People have the freedom to express. The Supreme Court has once again upheld this in a recent decision. Arrest may not be the answer. The police may look at other avenues to check rumour-mongering,” he said.
Soon after Jayalalithaa was admitted to the Apollo Hospital in Chennai on September 22 after she complained of fever and dehydration, rumours have been running rife about her health on social networking sites like Facebook and WhatsApp.
To scotch such rumours, the local police have formed a team comprising private cyber experts to keep a watch on those who spread false information about the health and warned of stern action against those involved in such acts.