As all of you are aware, a national lockdown has not been imposed in the country. Instead, state government and in certain cases, district administrations have been imposing lockdowns within their jurisdiction. One of the ways in which such lockdowns are imposed is through the infamous Section 144(1), Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.
On 9th May,2021 we came across a Section 144(1) CrPC, 1973 order imposed by the district administration of Indore. Paragraph 7 of the order prohibited ‘unrestrained’ comments on social media on the efforts to break the Covid-19 transmission. The order even threatened prosecution for non-compliance. As a result of this overboard order, one could have faced prosecution for even criticising the government. Evidently, this is is against freedom of speech and expression.
As a response to this order, we filed an application before Collector, Indore. In the application, we gave reasons for why this order is illegal and requested the collector to remove the order.
On 12th May, 2021 the Collector responded positively to our application. He accepted the objections we raised against the order and removed the prohibition on ‘unrestrained comments’. You can read more about this on our post here which also provides links to all the important documents related to this issue.
While this is definitely a positive development, we want to know if there are more such orders across the country. Such restrictions in non-metropolitan cities significantly curb speech as information of the restriction spreads fast but still do not get the attention of the national media.
We call upon the IFF Community to let us know if you come across similar orders. With your support, we can provide assistance to local civil rights efforts or take steps ourselves, like we did in Indore.