The Manipur government on Monday ordered the lifting of ban on mobile internet in the second phase whitelisting of mobile numbers for internet with immediate effect while relaxation for the rest, including civilians and media remain uncertain.
The government order stated that the second phase of whitelisting was in pursuance of High Court order dated August 10, 2023 as passed in PIL No 28 of 2023, PIL No 29 of 2023 with connected MC(PIL) No 12 of 2023, PIL No 30 of 2023 and one Writ Petition No 441 of 2023.
According to the order by T. Ranjit Singh, Commissioner (Home), the mobile numbers whitelisted for data are Governor of Manipur, Secretary to Governor and officers/officials recommended by Governor’s Secretariat; Chief Minister, Manipur, Secretary to Chief Minister, Legal Advisor to Chief Manipur and officers/officials recommended by Chief Minister’s Secretariat Minister; Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly, Secretary, Manipur Legislative Assembly and officers/ officials recommended by Manipur Legislative Assembly Secretariat; Chief Justice, Judges and officers/officials recommended by the High Court of Manipur and all Cabinet Ministers, Manipur.
The order also includes Ld. Advocate General and Ld. Addl. Advocate General, Manipur; Security Advisor to the Government of Manipur; Director General of Police, Manipur; all Administrative Secretaries to the Government of Manipur; all Vice Chancellors of Universities in Manipur; all Special Secretaries, Addl. Secretaries, Deputy Commissioners, Joint Secretaries, HoDs and Addl. Deputy Commissioners, Manipur; all Superintendents of Police & Addl. Superintendents of Police, Manipur. (xiii) Director & Medical Superintendent (RIMS/ JNIMS), Manipur and Officers of Security agencies recommended by the Army/ Assam Rifles upto Commandant level.
The order further added Staff Officers & PS to Chief Secretary, Government of Manipur, members of the Expert Committee; 5 members each from all Telecom Service Providers (TSPs who will conduct data leakage testing).
The prescribed Undertaking/ Consent Form duly filled in is to be submitted to Gurumayum Robert Sharma, Chairman, Expert Committee, Email: Robert.firstname.lastname@example.org. for onward submission to TSPs, the order from the commissioner stated.
It may be recalled here that the Manipur High Court had asked the Manipur government to consider devising a mechanism for providing internet services through mobile phones by whitelisting the mobile numbers on a case-to-case basis.
A bench of Justice Ahanthem Bimol Singh and Justice A Guneshwar Sharma on Friday called for providing internet services through mobile phones by whitelisting the mobile numbers on case-to-case basis and in a phase-wise manner.
Counsel for the petitioners had submitted that since there has been no data leakage through the whitelisted mobile phones, the high court can pass appropriate orders directing the state to whitelist all mobile phones in a gradual manner.
The counsel said authorities have conducted physical trials about revoking the mobile internet ban by whitelisting certain mobile numbers.
As per the report submitted by service providers, there is no data leakage to any other numbers which are not whitelisted, the counsel added.
An indefinite mobile internet ban has been in force in Manipur since May 3 after violence broke out in the state. The court will hear the matter again on August 31.
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