The magistrate of Indore district P. Narhari has enforced a blanket ban on circulation of any “objectionable” content on any social media within the administrative territory of Indore regarding demonetisation. The order has been passed under S. 144(2) of Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.
The magistrate’s order is in Hindi, it essentially states that circulation of any “objectionable” material through “Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp and other social media” regarding the exchange of old currency notes has been prohibited in Indore district. The prohibition is rather ambiguous in nature in terms of what is objectionable. Even the forwarding of any such messages or pictures is prohibited, so is commenting on such posts. The order which begins by relying upon “media reports” for this information that various “anti-social elements” have been trying to create a” law and order problem” by circulation of objectionable content on social media regarding the recent decision by the government to demonetise 500 and 1000 rupee denominations.
The district magistrate’s order dated November 14, 2016 states that such a decision has been taken keeping in mind the possibility of “disruption in social harmony” and to ensure peace and larger public interest.
The Supreme Court, which is hearing petitions challenging demonetisation, has acknowledged the problems faced by the common man and asked the Union to submit details of the steps being taken reduce the suffering of the people. The Union has already submitted an affidavit detailing the measures being taken.
Reportedly, the Internet Freedom Foundation(IFF) and Free Software Movement of India(FSMI) have strongly opposed this ban. While the IFF has called the move an example of "broad pre-censorship" and "heavily disproportionate to the intended objective of maintenance of public order” and has sent a legal notice to the DM asking him to withdraw the order. FSMI has echoed the same sentiment and pointed out how Section 144 has repeatedly been used arbitrarily by state and central governments.
Image from here.
Read the order here.