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New rules for digital media: Imphal district admin takes back notice to site after Centre rap

The March 1 notice, signed by Naorem Praveen Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Imphal West, was addressed to the “publisher/ intermediary” of “Khanasi Neinasi”, a weekly online discussion programme hosted on The Frontier Manipur’s Facebook page.

Written by Jimmy Leivon | Imphal |
Updated: March 3, 2021 7:35:24 am
The notice was withdrawn by Tuesday evening.

A day after the district authorities in Imphal issued a notice to news website The Frontier Manipur, asking it to “furnish relevant documents” showing “compliance” with the government’s new rules for digital media, the Centre informed the Manipur government on Tuesday that the implementation of the new Digital Media Ethics Code was not within the state’s purview. The notice was withdrawn by Tuesday evening.

The March 1 notice, signed by Naorem Praveen Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Imphal West, was addressed to the “publisher/ intermediary” of “Khanasi Neinasi”, a weekly online discussion programme hosted on The Frontier Manipur’s Facebook page.

Paojel Chaoba, Executive Editor of The Frontier Manipur, said a police team delivered the notice at his residence on Monday morning.

“It has come to our notice that you are providing online news services on news and current affairs on the social media platform through the Facebook page Khanasi Neinasi,” the notice said.

Citing the new rules, it said: “You are hereby directed to furnish all the relevant documents showing that you ensure compliance of the provision of the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, failing which steps as deemed fit shall be initiated without further notice.”

But in a note addressed to Manipur Chief Secretary Rajesh Kumar on Tuesday, Amit Khare, Secretary, Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, said: “the requirement of furnishing of information and disclosure of information (under the new rules for digital media) are to be administered by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. These powers have not been delegated to the state government/ district magistrate/ police commissioner.”

On Tuesday evening, the district authorities sent a second notice, informing that the earlier notice had been withdrawn. Chaoba said the second notice was pasted outside his residence.

“It is to inform you that this office notice… dated March 1, 2021 served to you stands withdrawn with immediate effect,” said the second notice, also signed by Singh.

Singh could not be contacted on Tuesday.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Chaoba said: “I was arrested recently under sedition charge, and my family is yet to recover from the trauma… Sending a police team to my residence to deliver the notice speaks for itself, this is nothing but intimidation.”

He said the focus of the recent Khanasi Neinasi programme was freedom of press. “We will file a petition in court against the notice,” he said.

In January, Chaoba and his Editor-in-Chief Dhiren Sadokpam were detained for a night over an article in The Frontier Manipur which allegedly “endorsed revolutionary ideologies”. They were released the following day after they reportedly admitted oversight.

With ENS, New Delhi

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