Plea for access to public Wi-Fi when State suspends internet services: Punjab High Court.
The Punjab High Court, in Neeraj v/s State of Punjab and another (CWP-7865-2023), on 21st April 2023, received a petition in lieu of access to free wi-fi provided by the state on ban of internet services. The judgement was presided by Honorable Mr. Justice Vinod S. Bhardwaj.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The Court dealt with a writ petition which sought an alternative to access the internet when mobile services stand restricted by the State or the Union of India. The petitioner moved the court on the premises of internet being as essential service and for citizens whose sole means to access internet is through mobile services such as 2G/3G/4G/5G/GPRS. The petitioner further contended that internet users, who solely access the net through mobile data services are amongst the most affected when such suspension takes place. Reference to fundamental rights under 19 (1) (a), Article 19 (1) (g) and Article 14 was upheld by the petitioner. Suspension of internet encroaches the fundamental rights of the citizens. Therefore, access to wi-fi/ broadband can still make internet accessible to citizens. This constitutes as a ‘fair, reasonable and just’ procedure under the law.
The Court sought the replies of the Punjab Government as well as the Union of India in this regard. A reference was also cited from the Supreme Court interpretation in Anuradha Bhasin v/s Union of India. The Court had held that suspension of internet services violated the fundamental rights of the citizens.
JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ARYA THAKUR.
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