Internet shutdown in Manipur
ContextRecently, Manipur High Court has granted limited Internet access in designated places in the State after a petition seeking the restoration of net access.
About the issue:
- The State of Manipur ordered a state-wide internet shutdown to tackle the escalating violence.
- The notification stated that the shutdown will prevent ‘anti-social elements’ from misusing social media platforms to incite the public, spread false rumours, and share hateful content.
- The petitioners argued that the shutdown continued indefinitely even after the situation had ‘de-escalated’.
- They asserted that the lack of internet access had severely impacted their lives and livelihoods, violating their fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
- According to a recent report, India enforced as many as 84 internet shutdowns in 2022 and was on top of the list for the fifth year in a row.
- Other events:
- Authorities in Rajasthan imposed shutdowns on 12 different occasions followed by West Bengal, which ordered shutdowns seven times.
- Internet shutdown orders are governed under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, under the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
- The 2017 Rules provide for temporary shutdown of telecom services in a region on grounds of public emergency and give senior bureaucrats from the Home Ministry at the central and state levels the power to order shutdowns.
- The 1885 Act empowers the Central government to regulate various types of telecom services including internet services and grant licenses for them.
- Using Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure: It justifies the communications blockade and the continuance of it, has been a rising trend.
- Section 144 gives a magistrate the powers to enforce a general shutdown of the area if he or she believes that there could be violence in the area.
- The internet blackout and restrictions on movement has severely disrupted the lives of millions.
- It has impacted everything, from college admissions to businesses filing tax returns.
- The unavailability of internet has also severely impacted businesses.
- According to ICRIER, internet shutdown had cost the Indian economy about $3.04 billion.
- According to Cellular Operator Association of India (COAI), mobile carriers lost about $8 million a day for shutdown in any of the 22 circles where they operate in the country.
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