As per the latest annual crime report published by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), cases registered under Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which pertains to cases filed against people who 'circulate fake/false news/rumours' rose by a sharp 214 percent in 2020.
The report, which noted a growth in 'fake or false news' circulation stated that while 486 cases were registered under Section 505 of the IPC in 2019, 2020 saw a whopping 1,527 registered cases.
HOW DID STATES FARE DURING THE PANDEMIC YEAR?
According to 'Crime In India - 2020' report, Telangana topped the chart with 273 cases, followed by 188 cases registered in Tamil Nadu. Uttar Pradesh filed 166 cases, whereas Bihar and Maharashtra registered 144 and 132 cases respectively.
While some Union Territories such as Lakshadweep and Chandigarh recorded zero cases, 10 out of 28 states, including Kerala and Punjab saw fewer than 10 cases being registered for the dissemination of misinformation.
Among the total number of cases reported during 2020, seven of them were filed against juveniles.
2020: THE YEAR OF HEALTH MISINFORMATION
The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 witnessed a barrage of health misinformation pertaining to claims around unscientific cures for coronavirus, 'hacks' related to cow urine and cow dung to people being advised to put lemon drops in their nose to cure coronavirus.
The Quint's WebQoof team, along with Quint FIT, debunked numerous such claims.
Doctors and experts had emphasised that even if some misinformation might not directly harm a person, but it could "give a false sense of security" which may eventually lead to people not following preventative measures.
However, COVID misinformation was not limited to health, it took a communal turn following the Tablighi Jamaat congregation in the national capital.