As the class tenth board examinations in West Bengal start from Monday 7th March 2022, the state government has imposed an internet blackout in parts of a few districts to prevent question paper leaks during the exams. The exams will be conducted between 7th March 2022 and 16th March 2022. Home and Hill Affairs Department of the Government of West Bengal has issued an order on 3rd March 2022 in which it is stated that the internet services will be blocked, however call and messaging will operate normally.
In a first, #WestBengal Govt imposes Internet blackout in parts of Malda, Murshidabad, Uttar Dinajpur, Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Birbhum & Darjeeling during #Madhyamik exams to prevent question paper leak. pic.twitter.com/wYZKiFDijf— Sreyashi Dey (@SreyashiDey) March 6, 2022
The order states, “Intelligence reports have been received that Internet transmissions and Voice over Internet Telephony may be used for unlawful activities in certain areas over the next few days. Examination of the information received gives reason to believe that such unlawful activities are likely to occur in the absence of preventive measures. The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression of IndianCitizens but at the same time allows for reasonable restrictions on the same.”
It further says, “No restriction is being imposed on voice calls and SMS and on newspapers, hence communication and dissemination of knowledge and information is not stopped in any way.”
Ruling the order of internet blackout, the order says, “Now therefore in order to prevent obstruction, annoyance or injury to any person lawfully employed, or danger to human life, health or safety, or a disturbance of the public tranquillity, or a riot or an affray, through an order under Sec. 144 Cr.P.C. and in compliance with sub-rule 2(1) of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017 and sub-rule 2(A) of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Amendment) Rules, 2020 it is promulgated that any data related message or class of messages to or from any person or class of persons relating to any particular subject, brought for transmission by or transmitted or received by any telegraph within the ambit of the India Telegraph Act, 1885, shall temporarily not be transmitted in the interest of maintaining public order and preventing incitement to the commission of any offence within the jurisdiction of the Block/Police Stations listed in the Annexure.”
The order has also clearly mentioned the time duration of the internet blackout. It says, “This order shall remain valid and shall be implemented from 11 am to 3:15 pm on 07.03.2022 to 09.03.2022, 11.03.2022, 12.03.2022 and 14.03.2022 to 16.03.2022.”
It is notable that the annexure names the areas where this order is applicable. The list includes parts of Malda, Murshidabad, Uttar Dinajpur, Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Birbhum & Darjeeling.