Indian telegraph act 1885
The Indian Telegraph Act was passed in 1885. It was proposed to give the central government power to establish telegraphers the use of wired and wireless telegraphy, teletype, telephones, radio communications and digital data communications.
This act not only gives the Government of India exclusive jurisdiction and privileges for establishing, maintaining, operating, licensing and oversight all forms of wired and wireless communication within Indian territory but also authorised government law enforcement agencies to monitor communications and tap phone lines under conditions defined within the lines on private and public property as well.
The telegraph act first was installed in 1851 and a trans-India telegraph was completed after 3 years in 1854. India was still under the role of the British Raj at the time the Act was enacted.
Undoubtedly, The telegraph had become an important tool for British dominion over India by quilling rebellions and consolidating information in the intervening 30 years.
Therefore, it was essential for the British government to have control of telegraphy and infrastructure across the subcontinent.
The Union Home Ministry has issued orders to suspend the internet in some areas in Delhi under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services of the Indian Telegraph Act 1885.
These orders have been issued only twice under this act, first in Delhi on December 19 and second on December 20, 2019, when the protest against the Citizenship Act was at its height.
The rules formulated in 2017 empower the union home secretary and State’s home secretary to pass directions to suspend the telecom services, including the internet, “due to public emergency public safety.”
Section 5 of the Telegraph Act allows Central and state governments to inhibit the transmission of messaging during a “public emergency or in the interest of public safety”, or “in the interest of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state.”