Right to Access the Internet is fundamental right:Kerala High Court

By: – Syed Ali Taher Abedi

In a significant ruling Kerala High Court on Thursday declared that right to access to internet is a fundamental part of right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. The right to internet access also forms part of roght to education, added a single bench of Justice P.V.Asha.

Through the network, Internet delivers a range of services, including inter-linked hypertext document; the World Wide Web; electronic mail; telephony; and file sharing networks.

The Court held that right to have access to internet is part of the right to education as well as right to privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution.

Sri Narayana College of Kozhikode,Kerala,which  had prohibited inmates of girls hostel from using mobile phones between 6pm and 10pm.

According to the details when petitioner had approached the college principal with her grieve, the Principal asked her to state in a latter that she was unwilling to abide by the rule. Upon doing so,instead of relaxing arbitrary rules, the petitioner was asked to vacate her hostel room on a short notice of 12 hours. Thereafter her room was locked by the administration and she was not even allowed to collect her personal belongings.

She had then approached the High Court challenging the Rules as violative of Article 21 and 19 of the Constitution.

The petitioner had also contended that since hostel rules violated UGC(Promotion of Equityin Higher Educational Institutions)Regulations,2012 and the principles embodied in Convention of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,1979, Beijing Declaration.

These arbitray restrictions exemplify the irony behind the student enterreneurship programmes and schemes like “Digital India” That encourage internet access while in actuality  students are pushed back to orthodox learning practices. It is unrealistic to expect from students to subsequently become future leaders with scientific temper, torch-bearers on innovation and build India-based start-ups when we fail in putting minimal trust by denying them use of mobile phones and laptops.

Students had earlier raised concerns regarding this unreasonable rule to the Deputy Warden of the Women’s Hostel. Instead of having an open discussion on students’ grievances, they were informed by the authorities that those not willing to abide by the hotel’s rule would be required to vacate their hostel rooms.

The court observed that imposing of such restrictions is unreasonable and therefore the respondent shall re-admit the petitioner in the hostel without any further delay

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