Right to access the internet is a fundamental right forming a part to privacy under Article 21 of the constitution of India and it also forms a part of the right to education as held by High Court of Kerala in a landmark judgment.
A petition was filled by a student challenging restriction on the usage of mobile phones in a girl’s hostel. Justice P V Asha held the aforementioned declaration by allowing this petition.
Court further retreated that “When the Human Rights Council of the United Nations have found that right to access to the 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 cannot be permitted to stand in the eye of law".
The petitioner Faheema Shirin along with her inmates approached court stating that the restriction imposed by hostel authority to not use phones from 6 pm to 10 pm was hampering their learning process by depriving them access to information.
The court in the present case accepted the petitioner’s contention that the restriction so imposed amounts to a violation of fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India which states right to freedom of speech and expression. It also accepted the contention of the petitioner that the internet accessed through mobile phones laptop and other smart gadgets is a way to access information, gather knowledge and to express them.
Advocate Legith T Kottakkal, petitioner’s counsel brought attention to United Nation’s General which states that right to the internet is a human right in 2014.
The petitioner also highlighted that the mobile restriction was discriminatory on the grounds of gender as such restrictions were not imposed in the boy's hostel.
In this appeal court retreated that to there should be no gender discriminatory rules. It further observes that even if parents had consented to such rules student are not bond to abide by that as they have attended the age of majority and hold decisional autonomy.
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