One of the most debated issues of the present time is the State imposed “Internet Ban”. The common reason given for the ban is the unrest that it sparks in the States among its citizens. One of the biggest victims of this is the State of Kashmir.
The reasons for the Ban may differ in many aspects. The main questions raised during the ban is, “What are the safeguards for the Fundamental Rights?”. It is important to understand, that the Courts are the guardians of the Fundamental rights, and it is their duty to protect them.
A Petition presented to the Calcutta High Court requested its attention on the Internet Ban in the Hooghly district. On the 16th of May 2020 via video conference, the Chief Justice of Calcutta High Court heard the matter.
Facts of the Case
There was an Order to suspend internet services at Hooghly District. The District Magistrate issued the order on 12th of May 2020. There were three writ petitions filed for the violation of the Fundamental Rights.
Contention of the Petitioner
The main person who filed this case was Advocate Priyanka Tiberwal and others. These eminent Counsels argued on the behalf of the Petitioners. The main argument stated by them was the ultra vires nature of the suspension. Further, the Order issued by the District Judge was outside his authority. The Counsels supported their arguments with the famous Supreme Court case of Anuradha Vasin.
Contention of the Respondent
The Respondents, in this case, is the State of West Bengal. The Advocate General (AG) appeared on its behalf. The AG challenged the maintainability of the case. He pointed out that the petitioners did not have the right to represent the people. The decision taken by the District Magistrate was under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (due to Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017. The Court also referred to Section 7 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
Furthermore, he clarified that the District Judge has the authority to issue such Orders. Section 144 of the code of Criminal Procedure allowed the same. That this Section empowers the Court to impose curfew in a situation of unrest among people.
The Decision of the Court
After hearing both the sides, the Court asked the Respondents to justify the Order. The justification provided was not satisfactory. Therefore, the Court reversed the Order and ordered the restoration of internet services. Furthermore, there were directions issued to avoid such bans in the future.
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