Supreme Court Rules in Favour of Cutting Internet Access when ‘Neccessary’
The Supreme Court of India today ruled that it is ok for districts and states to cut access to mobile internet for a limited time to prevent law and order problems in the country. It basically allows the State to use its curfew powers to block internet access during public agitation that can turn aggressive and disturb the public.
The case was first brought to the court’s notice by student activist Gaurav Sureshbhai Vyas who challenged the police’s right to ban internet services last year for 63 million users in Gujrat during the Patinder agitation as a way to check unfounded rumours.
Vyas’ petition also contended that a complete ban would restrict the citizen’s right to free speech. However, The senior judge who ruled in favour of the ban said that “It becomes very necessary sometimes for law and order.”
The PIL said that while internet services cannot be shut down completely, the access to it can be restricted. The decision to ban internet services when “necessary” puts a serious issue of free speech into question on the one hand. On the other hand, the move is natural for a government that wants to control violent situations from getting worse. The Supreme Court also stated that the ban will only block mobile internet service and not Wi-Fi and broadband services