The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) to respond to a plea alleging arbitrary shutdown of internet access in various states, according to a report. The top court has ruled earlier in 2020 that an undefined restriction of internet services is illegal and that an internet shutdown order must meet tests of necessity and proportionality. State governments regularly shut down internet access in the areas where exams are conducted in order to prevent fraud.
According to a PTI report, on Friday, a bench of Chief Justice Uday Umesh Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha asked MeitY to respond to a PIL filed by the Software Freedom Law Centre. The petition alleged that internet services have been suspended in states like Arunachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
The top court reportedly sought details from the Center on whether any protocol existed to deal with the issue, while saying it was choosing to issue notices to MeitY instead of states where internet was shut down.
Internet shutdowns have been used to prevent cheating in examinations conducted in some states, and advocate Vrinda Grover informed the Supreme Court that petitions have already been filed in the high courts in Rajasthan and Calcutta.
The PIL refers to internet shutdown in Rajasthan amid recent communal tensions and in an attempt to prevent cheating during competitive examinations in various states. The advocate also questioned whether proportionality would allow internet access for this purpose, while a parliamentary committee had said that these measures should not be taken to prevent fraud.
According to the report, the bench said that the courts may be urged to follow the precedent established in the 2020 Anuradha Bhasin case, in which the apex court ruled that the internet shutdown orders must meet the tests of necessity and proportionality and that There is an undefined restriction. Internet services are illegal.