In continuation of the ongoing prohibitory orders, the Mumbai Police Commissionerate has issued another order on May 23. This time the order, along with regulations on Social media usage, has also called for a complete gag on persons speaking against the State Government’s functioning.
The gag order, signed by Pranaya Ashok, Deputy Commissioner of Mumbai Police, operations, has listed several issues faced by the State including dissemination of fake new, incorrect information and other objectionable content on various social media platforms. Along with the prohibitions on social media usage, the order, issued under section 144 of the CrPC, has specifically directed legal action against those who criticising the State and its functioning in the times of COVID-19.
The order, effective from May 25 to June 8, among other directives, “ Prohibits any person inciting mistrust towards government functionaries and their actions taken in order to prevent spread of the COVID-19 virus and causing danger to human health or safety or a disturbance to the public tranquility”. If any person contravening this Prohibitory order will be prosecuted under section 188 of the IPC.
Justice Anjana Prakash, former Judge of Patna HC, reacting to the Mumbai gag order, told The Wire, “The gag order is Prima Facie illegal and beyond the scope of section 144 of CrPC. The Magistrate does not have such wide and unbridled powers”.
She further said that, “In a democracy, every Institution has to function within the prescribed parameters. So, for the magistrate to forbid a citizen from having a contrarian opinion is not only illegal but also offensive”.
By Shubhi Singhal of LCD