A parliamentary panel has pulled up the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for not maintaining the record of incidents and inaction on several of its recommendations. To this end, the Standing Committee has tabled a report titled ‘Suspension of Telecom Services and Internet and its impact’ in Lok Sabha. The panel has asked the DoT to lay down a principle of proportionality and procedure for lifting of shutdown in coordination with the home ministry to prevent any misuse of the suspension rules.

Meanwhile, the committee feel that a centralised database of all internet shutdowns by the states should be maintained either by DoT or by Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on similar lines as maintained by National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in the MHA which is collecting information on certain aspects of crime regularly of which communal riots is one of them.

As per reports, there were 518 government-imposed internet shutdowns across India between January 2012 and March 2021, resulting in the highest number of internet blockings in the world by far. The panel directed the DoT and MHA to establish a mechanism to maintain a centralised database of all internet shutdown orders in the country at the earliest. Besides, the committee recommended DoT to expand the review committees that review the order of telecom services suspension under the Telecom Suspension Rules, 2017. It suggested inclusion of non-official members, such as retired judges, eminent citizens, heads of public organisations, TSP (telecom service provider) etc., to explore the possibility of including local member of parliament (MP) and member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) in the review committee.