In Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637, Ramana J (as he was then) held that “complete broad suspension of telecom services, be it the Internet or otherwise, being a drastic measure, must be considered by the State only if ‘necessary’ and ‘unavoidable’. In furtherance of the same, the State must assess the existence of an alternate, less intrusive remedy.” (Paragraph 99, Indian Kanoon)
Despite this decision, internet shutdowns are far more common in India than is desirable. In Rajasthan, the internet was even suspended to prevent cheating in exams. Surely, there are less intrusive measures to prevent cheating than suspending internet services for the entire population.
To investigate the compliance of Anuradha Bhasin in Rajasthan, we filed RTIs with various divisional commissioners, who issue suspension orders despite a Department of Telecommunication letter (Annexure B) discouraging them from doing so.
We have received a response from the Udaipur Divisional Commissioner. According to the reply, their office has issued 26 different internet shutdown orders since the decision of the Supreme Court in Anuradha Bhasin. These 26 orders are only from the Udaipur Division, one of the 7 Divisions in Rajasthan.
We are examining these orders to determine if they were necessary and if less intrusive options were available to the administration instead of the drastic measure of suspending telecom services.
Let us know what you think!