GUWAHATI: The Manipur high court has instructed the state’s home department to allow internet access through Internet Leased Lines (ILL) for businesses and offices as well as consider providing broadband connectivity through Fibre to the Home (FTTH) for household use on a case-by-case basis.
The HC also ordered physical trials for granting internet access to mobile numbers that are verified and cleared by the home department.
Internet services in Manipur have been suspended since May 3 when ethnic violence broke out in the state, which killed around 130 people the past two months and displaced thousands from their homes.
In response to several petitions seeking the restoration of internet services, a division bench of Justices Ahanthem Bimol Singh and A Guneshwar Sharma held an in-chamber hearing and issued its order Friday.
The bench stated: “We believe that it is in the public interest to issue the following directions to alleviate, to some extent, the hardships faced by the public due to the complete ban on internet services by the state government. Simultaneously, the security and safety of the state and its citizens’ lives and properties should be ensured.”
The court directed the state government, particularly the home department, to lift the ban on providing internet services through ILL across the state. However, this should only be done after ensuring that all stakeholders have complied with the safeguards recommended by a 12-member expert committee appointed by the state government.
The committee proposed that internet services can be provided by all service providers in the state to a limited number of “whitelisted” mobile numbers, which would be specifically identified and furnished by the home department. The service providers assured that internet access would be limited exclusively to these whitelisted numbers, with no possibility of leakage or utilisation by anyone other than the authorised user.
Based on these recommendations, the court ordered the state government to conduct physical trials to assess the feasibility of providing internet services to the whitelisted mobile phones while ensuring the security of the state and the safety of its citizens and their properties.
The state government stated that the ban on ILL can be lifted, but with a maximum speed cap of 10 Mbps. Users would be required to provide undertakings that they will refrain from spreading or posting rumours, objectionable or provocative content or comments likely to create mistrust and misunderstanding.
Regarding FTTH, the state government proposed that permission from the home department on a case-by-case basis should be mandatory.

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