On March 31, 2023, the District Magistrate, Howrah District, West Bengal, issued an order for the shutdown of internet services for approximately one day starting from March 31, 2023 (“March 31 Order”). The District Magistrate reportedly issued the order under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (‘CrPC’). Whereas the procedure for suspension of internet services has been laid down under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017 (‘Telecom Suspension Rules, 2017’). The Telecom Suspension Rules, 2017 were examined by the Supreme Court in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India in 2020, highlighting that since 2017 the position has changed, and states are using the aforesaid Rules to restrict telecom services, including access to the internet. We wrote to the District Magistrate, Howrah District, West Bengal stating our concern about suspending internet services under Section 144 CrPC instead of following the procedure laid down in the Telecom Suspension Rules, 2017.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://internetfreedom.in/we-wrote-to-the-district-magistrate-howrah-to-not-use-s-144-crpc-to-suspend-internet-services/