Ravi Shankar Prasad
India's Information Technology (IT) and Telecommunications Minister Ravi Shankar PrasadReuters

At least 844 social media pages were blocked by the government for carrying obejectionable content till November 2015, Union Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told Parliament on Wednesday.

Of the total 844 web pages, 492 were blocked under Section 69A of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000, based on recommendation of a committee set up in this regard.

Section 69A of the IT Act authorises the government to block any online information to safeguard the "sovereignty and integrity of India, national security, friendly relations with foreign states or for maintaining law and order".

The number of links (492) blocked under this section is very high compared to previous years. In 2014, only 10 webpages blocked in this regard.

"A total of 136, 13, 10 and 492 URLs of social media websites were blocked in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015, respectively under Section 69A through the committee constituted under the rules therein," PTI quoted Prasad as saying.

Of the total 844, 352 URLs of social media websites were blocked on court orders.

Apart from this, a total of 533, 432 and 352 were blocked as directed by various competent courts in the country in 2013, 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Prasad said there is no separate category for websites blocked on the basis of anti-religious content.

In 2014, a total of 4,192 cases were reported under Section 66A of the IT Act, under which one could be imprisoned for sending offensive messages online. However, it is no longer valid as the apex court had annulled the section in March 2015.

At least 2,423 persons were arrested in 2014, out of which 1,125 were charge-sheeted and 42 were convicted under Section 66A of IT Act, according to the data given by the minister.