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India holds the record for the maximum number of instances of internet shutdown in the world wherein 100 of such instances took place in 2019 alone, the petition elaborates, while also citing the recent examples of internet restrictions imposed in various parts following anti-CAA protests.
A PIL has been moved in the Supreme Court contending that internet shutdowns across the country should be declared to be in violation of Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India and are thus, unconstitutional and illegal.
Filed by one Ehtesham Hashmi, the Public Interest Litigation (PIL) plea has prayed that the Apex Court lay down guidelines in order to prevent “arbitrary Internet Shutdown” by government authorities under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
The act of the government to suspend internet and communication services in various parts of the country has been questioned by the petitioner, who says that this “arbitrary act of the government” raises serious doubts on the intention of the government to adhere to the Constitution of India. Any such suspension of internet and communication services is, according to the petitioner, in violation of Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
Internet has attained the status of a basic necessity and transformed the lives of people in this age of technological advancement, Hashmi stresses in his petition. He further adds that India has the second largest user base of internet in the world. The government’s decision to snap internet services is an attack on freedom of expression of individuals, the petitioner avers.