Trouble for IIPM chief? Govt dares blocking of URLs verdict

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Arindam Chaudhuri
Gwalior, Feb 28: It seems government has taken note of the issue of blocking of around 70 URLs or web-pages which were critical of Indian Institute of Planning & Management (IIPM) and its works. 

Recently, India's Department of Telecommunications issued instructions to Internet Service Licensees to block access to 78 URLs from India, and the list contains 73 URLs which are anti-IIPM. The order was signed by Subodh Saxena of the DoT.

The decision of the government received large-scale criticism. Reports say government on Thursday will challenge the Gwalior High Court's order of blocking 78 webpages, of which 73 had articles critical of the IIPM and its director Arindam Chaudhuri.

After Chaudhuri approached a court in Gwalior, the court order asked Internet service providers (ISPs) to prevent access to more than 73 URLs (including University Grants Commission), which are critical of IIPM and its works.

The blocking of URLs led to the blocking of a webpage on the website of the University Grants Commission (UGC). The page carried a warning that IIPM is not recognized as a university and cannot confer degrees on students.

The entire episode of blocking of URLs is unprecedented. Social networking sites were abuzz with posts on government's move to block anti-IIPM URLs.

#IIPM was the trending topic on Twitter. Twitter users have slammed the blocking. Even all the main national newspapers wrote critical pieces on blocking of URLs.

However, the man at the centre of the controversy has welcomed the decision of the court. "The matter is sub judice and I should ideally not be saying much; yet, let me make five simple points. Last year, one of our channel partners had filed a suit against Google and submitted to various ISPs information on certain articles (that he considered defamatory and were affecting his business) about IIPM on the Internet. After hearing the suit, the Hon'ble Court had asked Google to remove those links as they were found to be defamatory in nature. However, Google failed to comply with the order and subsequently, the Hon'ble Court asked ICERT to block those defamatory URLs till further orders. It also issued a notice to IIPM to be one of the respondents. We shall file our reply in the Hon'ble Court soon," said IIPM head, who is also an author and economist.

"As far as satire sites are concerned, I neither have any objections on any non-defamatory satire, nor would I have filed anything against them were I to do the same personally. In a democracy, satire is basic freedom of speech. However, I am glad that defamatory links that had been put up with a malicious intent have been ordered to be removed, as should be the case in any functional democracy."

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