Delhi HC dismisses plea on internet shutdown

Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court, File Photo

New Delhi,  The Delhi High Court dismissed a plea challenging an order passed by the Delhi Police which suspended telecom services in parts of Delhi on December 19

Dismissing the plea, a division bench of the court presided by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice C. Harishankar said, “We see no reason to entertain the writ petition for the reason that the services were put to halt for 4 hours on December 19, 2019 from 9 am to 1 pm.

It was temporary and the said period is already over. Writ petition is the prerogative power of the court. We see no reason to excercise its power under Article 226,” said the court.

The order passed by DCP Special Cell Pramod Singh Kushwaha suspended voice calls, SMS and internet services in parts of Delhi on December 18 to control the law and order situation in view of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act.

“If there is any person who is aggrieved by the order passed on December 18, 2019 by the DCP, he can file his own writ petition or seek damages in accordance with law,” the court said.

The observations came while the court was hearing a plea filed by Software Freedom Law Center, India which contended that in terms of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, DCP was not the competent authority to issue directions halting telecom services.

The petition further contended that as per the rules, Secretary, Home Ministry, Government of India or Secretary, Home Department of the relevant state government had the authority to halt telecom services. If not the relevant Secretary, an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary could pass such an order, it was argued.

It contended that the services shutdown was still continuing in parts of the city.

Opposing the claims of the petitioner, ASG Sanjay Jain said that at present, there was no communication shutdown in the city and that the order by the DCP, Delhi Police was passed after following the relevant law and rules.

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