It may be mentioned that advocate Chongtham Victor and proprietor of M/s MK Enterprise James Mayengbam had approached the Supreme Court stating that their lives and livelihood have been severely affected by the state-wide internet shut-down. The matter is expected to be heard by the apex court before June 10, as per TFM sources.
Manipur government on Monday extended the ban on mobile and broadband internet again by another five days stating that the action was taken in order to prevent spread of rumours and disinformation.
An order issued by the state home commissioner, H Gyan Prakash said the ban has been further extended till June 10. It said the step was taken as Manipur DGP on Monday informed that there are still reports of arson from some parts of the state.
The order said there was an apprehension that “some anti-social elements might use social media” for transmission of images, hate speech and hate video messages leading to serious repercussions for the law and order situation in Manipur.
The step was taken to “thwart the design and activities of anti-national and anti-social elements” and hence the decision on “further suspension, curbing of mobile data services, internet/data services including broadband viz. Reliance Jio
Fiber. Airtel Xtreme Black, BSNL, FTTH, Internet Lease Line (ILL) etc. and internet, data” etc.
“Any person found guilty for violation of aforesaid orders will be liable for legal action” said the order.
Apex Court to hear plea on internet ban soon
It may be mentioned that advocate Chongtham Victor and proprietor of M/s MK Enterprise James Mayengbam had approached the Supreme Court stating that their lives and livelihood have been severely affected by the state-wide internet shut-down that was imposed on May 3 and 4, was mechanically extended on May 7, May 11, May 16, May 21, May 26, May 31 and the most recent extension being June 5 notification effectively resulting in an indefinite shutdown of the internet. The matter will expected to be heard by the apex court before June 10, as per TFM sources.
The petition before the apex court pleads for an interim direction to restore internet services in Manipur, except in those areas where there is a surge in violence and unrest.
Advocate Chongtham Victor speaking to TFM said that the complete blockade of internet access across the state for more than a month has caused significant harm to the rights of the users and other residents. “Not only have they experienced fear, anxiety, helplessness and frustration as a result of the shutdown, but they have also been unable to communicate with their near and dear ones, office colleagues, straining personal, professional and social relationships”, he said.
Victor added that the people have been unable to send their children to school, access their bank accounts, receive or send payments, obtain essential supplies and medicines and more bringing their lives and livelihood to a standstill.
The petition filed by Victor and James said that the blocking orders cite law and order and anti-social elements rather than public order, and the latest extensions did not go through the oversight of Review Committee as necessary in law.
“The suspension orders do not explicitly mention reasons that fall within the contours of Article 19(2) of the Constitution; therefore, they violate Rule 2(2) of the Telecom Suspension Rules, and do not pass constitutional muster. For this reason alone, they must be declared unconstitutional and illegal,” it was contended. The internet ban does not serve a legitimate goal, and does not have a direct nexus with the purpose of law and order given the ground situation at present, the plea further said.
The petitioners, therefore, prayed that the State be directed to restore internet services in all districts, and publish the suspension orders as well as the findings of the Review Committee.