PIL filed in Supreme Court seeking Free Telecom/DTH Services during COVID-19 Lockdown

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A Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking to direct the Department of Telecom (DOT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to provide completely free telecom services and free access to satellite TV channels via DTH networks.

Brief of the PIL

Advocate Manohar Pratap has been filed a PIL under Article 32 of The Constitution of India before the Supreme Court saying that the cause of action arose when the nation-wide lockdown announced and the movement of all individuals has been restricted since 25th March 2020 to contain the spread of COVID-19 Pandemic.

The learned Advocate contended that, in the interest of the “Psychological Health” of the citizens, it is pertinent that directions and orders are passed to service providers to provide uninterrupted communications and entertainment services to persons who are being directed to stay in isolation or quarantine at this time.

It was also contended by the learned Advocate in the PIL that the humans are social and emotional beings who need social interactions as well as various modes of entertainment to keep their psychological contentment. The petitioner makes a special mention of those citizens who are stranded alone and without their families, needs the support of their family. The said support is only possible through digital means. The plea states that the Government of India must take steps to provide free unlimited calling and data usage facilities to the citizens during the lockdown.

Simultaneously, the PIL also seeks similar directions to provide free entertainment services to the citizens because watching shows/movies on DTH or various streaming websites can help lower mental pressure or psychological stress which is caused by confinement during the lockdown.

Arguments before the Supreme Court

  • If such directions are not passed there is a high probability that respondents will not provide any free services of communication and entertainment to the citizens during lockdown which is detrimental to the life and liberty of the citizens. It will further result in injury to the psychological health of the public at large thereby resulting in violation of Article 21 (Right to Life) of the Indian Constitution.
  • It was also argued that while the government has taken numerous steps to address the issues surrounding the pandemic and the lockdown, no step has been taken as regards the increasing psychological pressure on the citizens, who have now been restrained from making any movement outside their homes. Due to psychological pressure as per reports, 3 persons committed suicide due to fear of Novel Corona Virus.
  • In the PIL before Supreme Court also argues that the DOT and TRAI have the necessary powers under the license agreement, to push the telecoms and DTH operators into providing free voice or data services and unlimited access to satellite TV channels respectively.

On these Grounds, it was prayed

It was prayed before the Supreme Court by the learned Advocate in his PIL, to pass an order to seeking directions to all the service providers to provide the basic human need of social interaction and entertainment, free of cost and unlimited during lockdown period.


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