SC rules out urgent hearing of plea against internet shutdown in Manipur

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Representation image [File Photo]

The Supreme Court on Friday declined urgent listing of a plea against the shutdown of the internet services in the violence hit Manipur since May 3, saying that the State High Court was already seized of the matter.

Refusing an urgent listing of the plea by two Manipur residents – advocate Chongtham Victor Singh and businessman Mayengbam James – a vacation bench of Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Rajesh Bindal said, “High Court is seized of the matter. Why are you duplicating it? Let it come before the regular bench.”

Advocate Shadan Farasat appearing for two petitioners had mentioned the matter for an early listing telling the vacation bench that the internet is under shut down in the State for 39 days now, severely impacting the day to day lives of the people in the State.


However, the advocate appearing for the Manipur government told the bench that the State High Court is already seized of the matter and there was no urgency to hear the petitions.

The petitioners have said that they have moved the top court as their lives and livelihood have been severely affected by the state-wide shutdown of the internet. They have stated that shutdown has significantly impacted them and their families economically, socially, and psychologically besides there being a humanitarian dimension to it.

The petition said that people have not been able to send their children to school, access banks, receive payments from clients, distribute salaries to staff, or communicate via email or WhatsApp.

Questioning the justification for internet blockade, the petitioners have contended that  “Continued suspension of the internet for the purpose of preventing rumour-mongering and the spread of misinformation does not pass the threshold prescribed by the Telecom Suspension Rules 2017.”

There is no stipulated public order on the internet ban and did not go through the oversight of the Review Committee which is necessary under the law, the petitioner said.

The plea said that the order of internet ban is strangulating the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to carry on trade and occupation. The plea also stated that there is a violation of the Rule 2(2) of the Telecom Suspension Rules and hence they are unconstitutional.

The petitioners had sought a restoration of the internet in Manipur, except in those areas which continue to be facing unrest and violence.

The top court is already seized of the matter relating to the violence in Manipur and sought a status report from Centre and Manipur government on the relief and rehabilitation of the people affected in the violence between Meitei and Kuki communities.

Earlier, the top court had expressed concern over loss of lives and properties in Manipur during the violence between Meitei and Kuki communities and stressed for taking adequate measures to restore the normalcy over there.

The State High Court by its March 27, order had directed the Manipur government to consider the inclusion of Meitei community in the Scheduled Tribes list. However, this order has been put in abeyance for now.

The violence in Manipur between the Meiteis and the Kuki, erupted after a rally by the All Tribal Students Union of Manipur (ATSUM) on May 3.