The Gujarat High Court has upheld the ban on Mobile Internet imposed during the Patel quota agitation in the state. A Division bench of Justices Jayant Patel and N.V. Anjaria said “Rioting had taken place at various places and the State would be zealous to control the same by applying all modes available in law”.
A Law student, had approached the High Court by filing a Public Interest Litigation seeking to declare that the blocking/banning access to Mobile Internet Services during the Patel agitation as void ab initio, ultra vires and unconstitutional. The petitioner had also sought for restraining of the respondent-State and its officers from imposing a complete or partial ban, blocking access to Internet Mobile/Broadband Services in the State of Gujarat.
The petitioner submitted that “certain social media sites could be blocked, even if the purpose was to be achieved by exercise of the power, like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp etc. but complete blockage of access to internet through mobile could not be said as warranted in law”
The Court rejecting the contentions of the petitioner said “What type of reasonable restriction may be upon such rights of a citizen is a different aspect altogether but such rights under Article 19(1) are not absolute but are subject to the powers of the State to put reasonable restrictions.”
Regarding the notification issued for blocking mobile internet, the Court said it “ was in the background of a specific fact situation which in view of the said competent authority was prone for aggravation leading to public tranquility and public safety and the blocking of internet mobile facility was considered to be an appropriate action”
The court also opined “The attempt made by the learned counsel for the petitioner to contend that only social media sites could be blocked and not complete blockage of the internet access through mobiles, in our view, cannot be countenanced for two reasons; one is that normally, it should be left to the authority to find out its own mechanism for controlling the situation and the second is that there are number of social media sites which may not be required to be blocked independently or completely. But if internet access through mobiles is blocked by issuing directions to the mobile companies, such may possibly be more effective approach found by the competent authority.”
Read the Judgment here.