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31 Jul 2017

PIL against Hill Internet ban- Hearing on Aug 4

TT, Calcutta, July 30: A Darjeeling lawyer has filed a public interest litigation in Calcutta High Court, challenging the state government's ban on Internet services in the hills.
The government banned Internet services in the hills on June 17, a few days after the latest phase of the statehood agitation had been launched by the Gorkha Janmukti Morcha.
"The honourable high court has issued notices to respondents. The PIL will be taken up for hearing by honourable Chief Justice Nishita Mhatre and honourable Justice Tapabrata Chakraborty on August 4 or soon thereafter," said Reemesh Mothay, who filed the PIL.
Mothay has made the government pleader in the high court, additional chief secretary of home and hill affairs department, Darjeeling district magistrate and superintendent of police, inspector general of police (north Bengal) and the Union ministry of electronics and information technology opposite parties in the writ petition (No 20204 (W) of 2017).
"Since postal services are disrupted, we will be serving copies of the notices, as directed by the high court, on the Darjeeling DM and SP by hand tomorrow," said Hasang Bhutia, an associate lawyer of Mothay.
Mothay said the additional chief secretary had issued the order on the Internet ban on June 17 under section 144 of CrPC for "maintaining public order and preventing alleged incitement to the commission of any offence".
"The additional chief secretary is not at all competent to issue such an order under section 144 as the officer is neither a district magistrate nor a subdivisional magistrate specifically empowered by the state to issue such an order," Mothay said.
Following the 48-hour ban from June 17, Joyoshi Das Gupta, the DM of Darjeeling, subsequently issued a similar order. The petitioner said even the DM was not the competent authority and under Section 69A of the IT Act, 2000, only the secretary in the Union government's department of information technology could block access to Internet as an interim measure.

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