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The Supreme Court today dismissed the plea that urged for directing service providers to make available unlimited and free access to data, DTH and streaming facilities for people confined to their homes amid the COVID-19 lockdown.
The Bench of Justices NV Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and BR Gavai took up the matter for hearing via video conferencing and refused to entertain the plea, observing, "what kind of petitions are being filed?"
Citing mounting psychological pressure on the persons placed under lock down, the petitioner, Advocate Manohar Pratap, had sought directions to service providers such as Bharti Airtel, RelianceJio, Amazon Services, and others to provide free and uninterrupted calling, data, and streaming services during the COVID-19 lockdown.
In the interest of the "psychological health" of the citizens, the petitioner said that it is pertinent that directions and orders are passed to service providers to provide uninterrupted communication and entertainment services to people who are in isolation or in quarantine at this time.
"If such directions are not passed there is high probability that respondents will not provide any free services of communication and entertainment to the citizens during lockdown which is detrimental to the life and liberty of the citizens. It will further result in injury to the psychological health of the public at large thereby resulting in gross violation of Right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the petition said.
It was also argued that while the government has taken numerous steps to address the issues surrounding the pandemic and the lockdown, no step has been taken as regards the mounting psychological pressure on the citizens, who have now been restrained from making any movement outside their homes.
Consumption of entertainment content through satellite services, including DTH services and streaming facilities such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, will help in lowering psychological stress caused due to confinement, the plea went on to state.
On these grounds, among others, it was prayed,
"...in order to provide basic human need of social interaction and entertainment, the respondents may be directed to offer the services completely free and unlimited."