Can internet be claimed as a right?
Is it correct to shut down internet services for the general public at any time? Should such a service not be a right of the citizens?
India has made great progress in going digital. The bank transactions, Government transactions, online shopping platforms, payment of bills for various services used by the public, and many other services like share market, etc., are carried out online. The pandemic has caused the schools and colleges to be shut down and to save the academic year, the classes of the students have gone online. The doctors are also conducting video consultations for the patients. Now we are dependent on the internet for our life to continue smoothly. For anything and everything, we can just search on the internet to get the information.
The Government for various reasons is shutting down the internet at some places temporarily. This may be necessary for the Government but the common man is put to a lot of inconveniences due to these shutdowns. The Government has to find out other means of controlling the problems with the vast machinery it has at its command than suspending the internet services. The Supreme Court last year said that shutting down internet services indefinitely is not permissible under the Telecom Services Rules of 2017 as the suspension can only be done temporarily and all such suspension orders are subject to judicial review.
With all this in view, can the internet be claimed as a right?