On July 8, police had issued a notice to Fridays For Future under Section 79(3)(b) of the IT Act, 2000.
It invokes Section 18 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention)Act. With the allegations hat their website depicted contents “which are dangerous for the peace, tranquility and sovereignty of India.”
The notice was issued on July 8, but was made public only on Thursday. Website of Fridays For Future India has been blocked along with websites of two other environmental groups. The other websites are letindiabreathe.in and thereisnoearthb.in.
The notice was issued following a complaint by Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar. He was getting multiple emails on his email with the subject ‘EIA2020’ (draft environment impact assessment notification 2020).
However, Delhi Police on Thursday said the July 8 notice issued under UAPA was a “clerical error” which was withdrawn. A fresh notice was sent to the group under Sec. 66 of the IT Act on July 12. MS Randhawa, Delhi Police’s additional commissioner said that the police on July 16 wrote to Endurance Domains Technology. Department clarified that they had also withdrawn the July 12 notice under Section 66 of the IT Act. That was because the “unlawful activity had ceased”.
Section 79 (3)(b) of the IT Act refers to being notified by government or government agency of any data or communication link being used to commit an unlawful act.
Section 66 of the IT Act pertains to criminalising sending of offensive messages through a computer or other communication devices.
What is Fridays for Future?
Fridays for Future, also known as School strike for climate, Youth for Climate, Climate Strike or Youth Strike for Climate. It is an international movement of school students, which primarily works on climate change. These students take time off from class on Fridays to participate in demonstrations demanding action to prevent climate change. The movement began after student climate activist Greta Thunberg staged a protest in August 2018 outside the Swedish Parliament holding a sign that read “Skolstrejk för klimatet” or “School strike for climate”. Since then, the phrases have been used by climate activists across the world.
F F F website carried content claiming to generate public awareness around the draft EIA notification. The police, in an email, told that the “unlawful activities” on FFF website may “disturb the peace and sovereignty” of India. It asked domain hosts to block the website immediately.
Notice to Endurance Domains Technology LLP to block the website
The notice to the domain hosts of fridaysforfuture.in claimed that the website has objectionable contents. Such amounts to cognizable and punishable criminal offence under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Delhi Police told Endurance Domains Technology LLP that it is an intermediary in the case because it is the Internet Service Provider. They claimed that the FFF website being accessed through the ISP contains material that spreads religious hatred. Which can be charged under the Information Technology Act, 2000, in addition to UAPA.
“It is requested that you may take necessary action ( block above said domains / websites ) in this regard and send us a report immediately,” the Police said.
Fridays For Future denies spamming Javadekar with emails
Fridays for Future India made a representation to Delhi Police Cyber Crime Unit Deputy Commissioner Anyesh Roy. Fridays For Future India denied sending any mails to Javadekar. “FFF India did not actually send any emails & only provided content to help other concerned persons draft their own representations,” the representation said.Organisation also expressed shock over their websites being blocked under the UAPA.
What Were the Students Asking For ?
At the heart of the controversy is the Environmental Impact Assessment, 2020, which incorporates amendments to the 2006 statute.The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEFCC) had put up the draft law for public comments on 23rdMarch. The same being put up for the time frame of 60 days, ending on 23 May. This was extended till 30 June. On June 30, the Delhi HC extended the deadline to August 11, as the ministry was unwilling to extend it.
The petition filed in the High Court said that the proposed new law does away with the requirement for public consultation for a number of projects. Also argued that it could be a major setback for environmental justice as it weakened public consultation and diluted compliance norms for polluting companies. It is for these reasons that the draft EIA notification has encountered opposition from environmental experts, activists and common people.
And as a part of this process of sending feedback, three environment advocacy groups had released a draft mailer addressed to the environment ministry requesting them to withdraw the draft EIA notification.