Manipur Human Rights Commission orders State Chief Secy to submit report on prolonged internet ban on or before June 15

Imphal: Justice UB Saha, Chairperson of Manipur Human Rights Commission (MHRC) accompanied by Member KK Singh in an order on Wednesday (June 7), responding to a complaint petition has sought response from the [respondent] Government of Manipur, “issuing notice to the Chief Secretary to the State of Manipur and Commissioner (Home), Government of Manipur directing them to file their responses by way of status report,” on or before June 15, 2023.

In a complaint petition (Case No. 43/14/3/2023) filed through Human Rights Commissions Network by one Kamminthang Hangshing on May 15 from Aizwal, Mizoram on behalf of the people of Churachanpur District, Manipur against the internet ban in Churachandpur, Kamminthang had complained that while internet services was shut down in Churachandpur, the same was not shut in Imphal. The complainant addressed the Commission that the crisis took place in both Churachandpur and Imphal.

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“Internet has played a vital role in the day to day business like Bank transaction, work from home etc. Since this area was shunned from internet many innocent people are suffering. I urge the authority to take note of this and restore internet services as early as possible. This is a violation of human rights,” the complaint petition said.

In the order on Wednesday, Justice UB Saha said that the Commission is not in “favour of the shutdown of the internet service in the State of Manipur as due to such shut down of internet in the State, not only the students who are appearing examination through online but also the elderly persons who depend on their children at aboard and also common citizens and persons who are dependent on internet are badly affected and they are not in the position to continue their respective works like banking purchasing Air ticket and train ticket etc., more so, internet is nowadays one of the vital human rights for decent livelihood.”

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The Commission further said that it has taken the “judicial notice of the news item published in the local newspaper (The Sangai Express) with the headline “Plea filed in SC against internet ban” filed by two Manipur residents who have moved the Supreme Court against the mechanical and repeated internet shutdown internet in the State rocked by ethnic violence that began a month ago.”

The MHRC further observed that “internet plays a vital role in the modern day of life, more so when the young generation of the country who are working from home through internet and also the students who would appear in the examination through online may face severe effect without internet.”

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The order also observed: There is no doubt that Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution of India gives certain rights of the citizens, but the said right is subject to Article 19(2) which imposes some restriction which are as follows:

“(2) Nothing in sub clause (a) of clause ( 1 ) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making any law, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence.

The MHRC order also directed the complainant to appear in person before the Commission to substantiate his contention regarding internet not being shut down in Imphal by way of submitting the document, while also observing as to why “the complainant asked for restoration of internet only for Churachandpur not for whole Manipur State. A true citizen/country lover will not think only for a particular area or community but for the state as well as nation.”

“Meanwhile, the Commissioner (Home) may consider if the restoration of internet service can be restored in the State of Manipur for providing benefit to the citizen keeping balance the security of the state and right to freedom of expression,” the Commission said.

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