Facing intense attack, the BJP-led government made a hasty retreat as Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday withdrew within hours his government's order that threatened to take away the accreditation of journalists involved in producing "fake news".
"(The) Prime Minister has directed that the press release regarding fake news be withdrawn and the matter should only be addressed in the Press Council of India," an official source said.
The order issued on Monday night warned that journalists would be denied access to the government even on mere accusations of spreading fake news and could lose their accreditation for a limited period or permanently.
Journalists and opposition parties denounced the order issued by the Information and Broadcasting Ministry and described the guidelines as an attack on press freedom.
Strongly condemning the government, the Editors Guild of India said, "By notifying that the I & B Ministry will initiate such proceedings, the Government was arrogating for itself the role of policing the media. It would have opened the door for frivolous complaints to harass journalists and organisations to fall in line."
It also said the recent reconstitution of the Press Council of India had been done in a manner that gives rise to doubts over the independence of the institution and its ability to play neutral umpire.
A joint statement issued by the Press Club of India, Indian Women's Press Corps, Press Association and Federation of Press Clubs of Indi expressed their "deep concern" over the Monday order.
They said: "There is ample scope for introspection and reform of journalistic practices, yet a government fiat restraining the fourth pillar of our democracy is not the solution.
"The Press Council of India was primarily set up to protect the freedom of the press, not to clamp down on it."
On Tuesday afternoon, the I&B Ministry said in a press release that the "Guidelines for Accreditation of Journalists amended to regulate Fake News issued on April 2 stand withdrawn".