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Indian Telegraph Act, 1885

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  • Categories
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    28th Jan, 2021


In exercise of the power conferred by Section 7n of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, the Central government has ordered suspension of internet services to ensure public safety.

What is the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885?

  • The main object of the Telegraph Act was to give power to the Government to install telegraph lines on private as well as public property.

"Telegraph" means any appliance, instrument, material or apparatus used or capable of use for transmission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, visual or other electro-magnetic emissions, Radio waves or Hertzian waves, galvanic, electric or magnetic means.

  • Section 4 of the Act deals with exclusive privilege of the government to establish, maintain and use telegraphs.
    • It also provides for the government to grant licence to establish, maintain or work a telegraph.
    • The government may grant such licence on certain conditions and for a licence fee.
  • Section 5 of the Telegraph Act is commonly known as the wire-tapping clause.
    • It gives power to the government to take possession of any licensed telegraphs in case of a public emergency or in the interest of public safety.

Recent incidents of shutdown of internet services

  • The shutdown of internet services in the capital was last seen during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in December 2019 as well as the communal riots in parts of northeast Delhi in February 2020
  • Besides Delhi, the erstwhile state of Jammu & Kashmir has had internet services suspended to a large extent for nearly 18 months, since the contentious abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019 which granted Jammu & Kashmir special administrative rights.
  • The abrogation resulted in the region being reconstituted as a union territory, along with Ladakh.


  • Farmers have been protesting on the different borders of the national capital since November 26 against the three newly enacted farm laws –
    • Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020
    • Farmers Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and farm Services Act 2020
    • Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020

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