A plea has been moved in the Supreme Court seeking guidelines on the practical implementation of the internet shutdown in wake of the recent suspension of the internet services in Jaipur and other places to conduct Rajasthan Direct School Teacher Recruitment Examination.
The petitioner has been moved by Chhaya Rani through advocates Vishal Tiwari and Abhigya Kushwah.
The petitioner apprised the SC about the suspension of Internet services in Jaipur, Bharatpur, and several other districts through the Order dated February 24 from the Office of Divisional Commissioner, Bharatpur Division to conduct the Rajasthan Direct School Teacher Recruitment Examination (REET 2023) under the regulations of Rajasthan Staff Selection Board.
The petition said that such imposition merely shows the incompetence of the authorities to conduct such an exam and such imposition is not at all necessary and unavoidable.
Hence the petitioner sought to enforce the fundamental rights, particularly the Right to life, liberty, and Dignity which is enshrined under Article 21 to comply with the dictum laid down in Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India and to further prevent such apprehension-based arbitrary, ultra vires internet shutdowns affecting the public at large and Obstructing Judicial Work and
leading to severe violations of the fundamental rights of the citizens.
Earlier in 2020, the Supreme Court in the matter of Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India had clearly mandated that the State should impose such restriction only when the situation is ‘necessary’ and ‘unavoidable’,
The petitioner has urged the SC to immediately enforce and initiate guidelines and directions to comply with the dictum laid down by the Apex Court in the case of Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India.
The petitioner also demanded to impose the directions and guidelines as per the dictum for the practical implementation of the internet shutdown where a situation of necessity and unavoidance arises.
Apprising the court about the direction of the internet shutdown in Jaipur, Bharatpur, and several other districts in Rajasthan, the petitioner said that such imposition of internet shut down is manifestly against the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety Rules), 2017 and such order imposing shut down goes against the dictum laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India.
The petitioner said the imposition of internet shutdown through such an arbitrary fashion pertaining to a trivial apprehension has deprived the citizens of their right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a) and right to practice their profession and to carry on their occupation, business, and trade as guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution of India.
“Such arbitrary shutdown of internet services does not only violate the constitutional provisions of Article 19 and such also imposes a barrier on the access to justice which is a due fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” the petitioner said.
Added further, the petitioner said that the order dated February 24, 2023, passed by the Office of Divisional Commissioner, Jaipur Division is arbitrary, unlawful, and contains severe legal infirmities which require the due attention of the top court.
“There remains no evidence or assurance that the imposition of the internet shutdown would achieve the purpose that it seeks to achieve which is the prevention of cheating and malpractice in the scheduled examination. On the contrary, such imposition has affected the citizens at large and has impacted the access to justice, right to carry the profession, and right to freedom of speech and expression through the internet,” the petitioner said.