The Internet Freedom Foundation on Tuesday sent a legal notice to the Indore District Collector asking him to withdraw an order he had passed on November 14 imposing restrictions on “misleading and objectionable” posts on social media related to demonetisation. P Narhari, in his order, had invoked Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure making social media posts about demonerisation without a legal basis or even sharing them on WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media platform in the Indore district’s entire state border area a criminal offence.

He said such posts have the “potential of human life and public property being harmed/damaged”. “Because of activities, the health of general public is in danger and there is strong fear that in future these reasons may disrupt public peace. Therefore, there is an urgent need to impose restrictions on these types of antisocial activities,” the order read. The restriction has been in force since November 15, and it will last till January 12, 2017. Anyone found violating the decree will be punished under Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, which carries prison term of up to one month and/or fine of up to Rs 200.

The Internet Freedom Foundation said the District Collector’s order was an “overreach of the Criminal Procedure Code, and we are very concerned about the implications it has on Indians’ fundamental rights and freedom of expression”. They said the use of Section 144 was an example of “broad pre-censorship and is heavily disproportionate to the intended objective of maintenance of public order”.

The organisation also questioned the legality and scope of the Section imposed by Narhari. “Although rumours may cause annoyance, they aren’t illegal. The CrPC is only applicable when criminal intent is evident,” they said.