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SC refuses urgent hearing on PIL against recent internet shutdown

The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused an urgent hearing to a PIL challenging the internet shutdown in some districts of Rajasthan to curb cheating in competitive examinations.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice P S Narasimha did not agree to the submissions of lawyer Vishal Tiwari that the plea needed urgent hearing on March 3 as the state government stopped the internet services to prevent cheating in the recently held competitive examination for recruitment of school teachers and this adversely impacted even the functioning of courts. “No. We will not hear this on Friday. We will keep it after the (Holi) vacation,” said the bench.

The PIL, filed by one Chhaya Rani, has sought framing of guidelines for implementing the government’s order on internet shutdown.

Besides, it also sought implementation of the guidelines on internet shutdowns issued by the apex court in the judgement rendered in the Anuradha Bhasin case.

“The internet shutdown order was passed to minimise the chances of cheating or copying in the examination. This shows the incompetence of the state government and Rajasthan Public Service Commission. The apprehension of cheating and malpractice is vague and arbitrary,” it said.

There was no evidence that the imposition of the internet shutdown would achieve the purpose of preventing “cheating and malpractice” in the examination, it said.

“On the contrary, such imposition has affected the citizens at large and has impacted the access to justice, right to carry the profession, and right to freedom of speech and expression through the internet,” it said.

In the Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union of India case, which pertained to internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir following the scrapping of Article 370, the apex court had ruled that an undefined restriction of internet services is illegal and orders for internet shutdown must satisfy the tests of necessity and proportionality. PTI

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