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Calcutta HC asks West Bengal government to follow the law in future internet shutdown orders

The Court disposed a challenge to curbs in March by Ashlesh Biradar, an Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) staffer, as it made these remarks

The Calcutta High Court on July 18th disposed a petition filed by Ashlesh Biradar, an Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) staffer, challenging internet shutdown orders passed by the State government in March 2022 coinciding closely with the schedule of Class 10 State board examinations taking place there. In the order, a copy of which has been viewed by MediaNama, the court notes that the shutdown orders were in violation of existing laws, rules, and a Supreme Court judgement passed in this regard. It further expressed 'hope' that the State government would issue such orders in compliance with required regulations in the future. Lastly, the HC disposed of the petition noting the challenged orders had lost their force and that the matter had become academic. On March 10, the HC had  stayed the government's order for an internet shutdown across multiple days between March 7th and 16th, in at least 7 districts, between the hours of 11:00 AM to 3:15 PM- a time that, as aforementioned, closely coincided with examinations taking place in the State. Why it matters? In his petition, Biradar had asked for a stay on the orders on various grounds, directions to the West Bengal government to follow the law and procedure in issuing such orders as well as to publish the findings of the review committee for each instance of internet shutdown ordered after the 2020 Anuradha Bhasin  judgement of the apex court. Internet shutdowns in India have unfortunately become a regular occurrence, causing a loss of $582.2 million…

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I cover health technology for MediaNama but, really, love all things tech policy. Always willing to chat with a reader! Reach me at anushka@medianama.com

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