The ongoing Internet shutdown in Darjeeling, West Bengal completes 3 months today. This day, three months earlier, mobile Internet was shutdown in the city due to the ongoing agitation for a separate Gorkhaland. Two days later, on 20thJune, the orders were extended to the broadband services as well, effectively shutting down the entire Internet. Since then, the Internet ban has been extended several times by the district administration, without any hope of it being restored in the near future. We published a short report on the impact of the embargo on the daily lives of the people as the subsisting shutdown completed two months.
In August, we filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005, seeking details regarding the ongoing shutdown in Darjeeling and the copies of the orders that authorised these internet shutdowns. However, we were informed in response to the application, that the information asked by us could not be provided as it is exempted from disclosure under para 1(A)(2) of Notification No. 541-PAR(AR)/O/3M-29/2005 Pt. VIIIA dated 29 August, 2005 of Department of Personnel & Administrative Reforms, Government of West Bengal. Hence, the application was disposed of.
Notably, para 1(A)(2) of the above-mentioned notification exempts the Home Department, under section 24(4) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to provide information under Political Branch relating to the Interception of mails and other personal communications including phones/mobiles under Indian Post Office Act, 1898 and Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
The response to the RTI application is reproduced below: