The Delhi High Court dismissed a plea to set aside an order passed by the DCP, Delhi Police suspending telecom services in parts of Delhi on December 19.
The order suspending Voice call, SMS and internet services in parts of Delhi was issued by DCP PS Kushwaha on December 18 to control the law and order situation in view of the protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act, 2019.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar today observed that the impact of the order was already over, as it was only for 4 hours ie. 10 am to 1 pm on December 19. It was thus stated that there was no reason to interfere with the order in exercise of its writ jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
"We see no reason to entertain the writ petition for the reason that the services were put to halt for 4 hours on December 19, 2019 from 9am to 1 pm. That period is over."
It nonetheless clarified that persons aggrieved by the suspension of telecom services may take appropriate action under the law.
"If there is any person who is aggrieved by the order passed on December 18, 2019 by the DCP, he can file his own writ petition or seek damages in accordance with law."
The petitioner, Software Freedom Law Center India (sflc.in), contended that in terms of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, the DCP was not the competent authority to issue directions halting telecom services.
It was further contended that as per the Rules, the Secretary of the Union Home Ministry or the Secretary of the Home Department of the relevant state government had the authority to halt telecom services. If not the relevant Secretary, an officer not below the rank of Joint Secretary could pass such an order, it was argued.
It was also contended that the shutdown of services was still continuing in parts of the city.
In response, ASG Sanjay Jain contended that at present, there was no communication shutdown in the city. It was further submitted that the Executive order by the DCP, Delhi Police was passed after following the relevant law and rules.
After hearing the parties, the Court opined that there was no reason to interfere as the order was temporary in nature.
"Writ petition is the prerogative power of the Court. We see no reason to exercise its power under Art 226."
Apart from seeking a direction to set aside the suspension of telecom services order, the petitioner had also sought directions to ensure compliance of the 2017 Rules.
The petitioner was represented by Advocates Jayant Mehta and Bhuvan Mishra.
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