RIGHT TO INTERNET

The escalation of technology has driven the world to change at a faster pace. Internet today portrays a significant and primitive role for any individual. As a result, technology is viewed as an empowering agent. Even the rights instituted with the same have also had a prolific significance. Internet is an endless network of people, information, and knowledge which rests solely on the architecture of the digital public. Indians struggle to get the rights attached to the internet has been subtle but the late verdict has proved to be fruitful against the same. Internet has been termed to be the basic rights guaranteed to the individuals and recognized by the nation. India has given the same place to right to access the internet as of other human rights. Moreover, these rights have been devised as fundamental rights in the recent landmark judgement. The conflicts and the rights in the world have moreover edged towards the internet system. This was the reason certain asserted rights were necessary with the stages of development. The right to internet or the right to connect the view is that everyone, in order to exercise and enjoy their rights of freedom of expression and opinion, must be able to avail the services of internet. In the same regard, the States have a responsibility and are obligated to ensure that on a broader scale the Internet access is available to its masses and the States may not have the power to unreasonably infringe this right. United Nations Human Rights Commission passed a non-binding resolution signed by 70 countries as co-sponsors and effectively making the right to Internet access a basic human right. The countries against it or denying it was under-considered under direct violation of human rights.

The Supreme court declared access to the internet as a fundamental right. The government cannot restrict its citizens of the fundamental rights under certain conditions explicitly mentioned in the Constitution of India. The Constitution engraves the right to freedom of speech and expression a fundamental right for all citizens of the country. It has been enlisted in Article 19 (1)(a) of the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court has on many instances interpreted the scope of the right to freedom of speech and expression and expanded to meaningful insights.

The latest expansion made was to ensure the pace of freedom with technological development. Internet has been the primary source of information for millions of Indians. Although a non-citizen can avail the same benefits but cannot claim it as their fundamental right in the country. A state cannot technically declare any service, facility, or kind protection as a fundamental right as it requires interpretation of the high courts or order from Supreme Court or amendment to the Constitution by Parliament.

Article 19 of the Constitution lists the following as fundamental rights under "Protection of certain rights". It says:

(1) All citizens shall have the right

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) to form associations or unions;

(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

(f) omitted (the right to property)

(g) to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade, or business

The Supreme Court on previous instances has deduced the freedom of press from freedom of speech and expression and asserted that it is a guarantee to check the un regulatory powers. In the landmark Sakal Papers judgment, the Supreme Court ruled that freedom of the press cannot be curtailed, unlike the freedom.

In the case of Faheem Shairin, a hostel resident and student of Sree Narayana College, Chelanur, Kozhikode against the discriminatory girls’ hostel rules, specifically banning the use of mobile phones from 6 PM to 10 PM which restricted them from accessing internet. The petitioner was subsequently arbitrarily expelled from the hostel on protesting against the rules. Even the situation in Jammu and Kashmir took a gratuitous overturn. A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana also asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to restore Internet services in institutions like the hospitals, schools, and other essential services in the union territory.

The verdict came on a number of pleas registered after the 370th article was repealed on August 5th last year. This batch of pleas were different from another set of petitions which challenged the constitutional validity of the abrogation of Article 370, being heard by a five-judge Constitution bench.

The three-judge bench which also comprised justices BR Gavai and R Subhash Reddy said Section 144 CrPC cannot be used indefinitely to suppress freedom of speech and expression and the difference in opinion. The bench said access to Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution, under some restrictions and also said the freedom of press is a valuable and a sacred right. They ordered for a quick restore of the internet and all service facilities without being subject to the fundamental rights and act under the doctrine of proportionality. Internet is a necessity and clubbing it with fundamental rights has proved to be an outsource major decision.

© The People Bookmark | 2020

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