The internet shutdown in Manipur crosses 60 days today. On June 27, 2023, the Manipur HC formed a 12-member Committee to explore the possibility of ‘limited internet access’ via blocking social media sites & VPNs. As we approach two months, the internet shutdown in Manipur is now virtually of an indefinite nature. It is important to note that the Supreme Court in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India held that internet suspensions cannot be indefinite, and must be restricted temporally and geographically. Manipur High Court is hearing petitions challenging the internet shutdown. On June 23, the Ministry of Electronics & IT, Gov’t of India, National Informatics Centre, Manipur, & Department of IT, Manipur, were impleaded to verify whether any known list of VPNs was available, & to submit a team of technical experts to identify operating VPNs.
On 27 June, the Manipur High Court formed a 12-member Committee to explore whether ‘limited internet access’ via blocking social media sites & VPNs could be granted to the public “to mitigate the hardship faced by the public on account of total ban imposed by the State Govt.” The High Court also directed the Committee to discuss whether it would be possible to block third-party VPNs to ensure limited internet services and to find if there was any other way to limit such services by blocking social media platforms. The Petitioners were directed to provide a list of centres hosting computer-based exams like NEET, CUET, etc. in order for the State Government to arrange internet services at these locations. The next date of hearing is July 6th, 2023.
This indefinite suspension of internet services in Manipur has severely impacted access to govt services, education, business, medical services & the dissemination of crucial information. Read our report on the human cost of internet shutdowns with the Human Rights Watch here and for a more detailed explanation of the current legal proceedings in Manipur visit our blog post.