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Access to internet is fundamental right: Kerala HC

The latest verdict of the court is likely to strengthen hands of those who are opposing internet clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2019 13:20 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Thiruvananthapuram
Image for representation
Image for representation(PTI file photo)
         

The Kerala High Court on Thursday said that the right to access internet is part of the fundamental right to education as well as the right to privacy under the Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The latest verdict of the court is likely to strengthen hands of those who are opposing internet clampdown in Jammu and Kashmir.

The high court made this observation while hearing a plea of a hostel student in Kozhikkode in north Kerala who questioned her college authority’s decision to expel her from the college hostel for using her mobile phone beyond restricted hours. Faheema Shirin R K (22), a third semester BA English Literature student, had moved the court after Sreenarayana Guru College had expelled her from the hostel for not adhering to restrictions on the use of mobile phones.

Justice P V Asha has annulled the principal’s order and directed the college authorities to re-admit her immediately. In her petition, Shirin contended that internet is an important tool for acquiring knowledge and in the name of disciple, flow of knowledge can’t be contained. The court agreed to her contention and ruled that access to internet is a basic right.

“When the UN human rights council has found that the right to access to internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure right to education, a rule or instruction which impairs the said right of the students can’t be permitted to stand in the eye of the law,” the judge observed while giving her ruling.

The petitioner said in the girls’ hostel, students were not allowed to use mobile phones from 6 pm to 10 pm and when she and her fellow students questioned this, she was singled out and victimised. But the college said the step was taken to ensure well being of students and it won’t hamper their learning time.

However, the court did not agree and observed that internet was also a learning tool and nobody can impose restrictions on it citing discipline.

“Enforcement of discipline shall not be by blocking the ways and means of the students to acquire knowledge,” the court observed. Legal luminaries said those who oppose the latest clamp down in Jammu and Kashmir can question this citing the latest verdict.

The college said it has no plan to file an appeal in a higher court now.

According to latest statistics, India has got second largest number of internet users in the world followed by China, which has 748 million users followed. India has 455 million users.

First Published: Sep 20, 2019 13:20 IST

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