The Kerala High Court on Thursday held that access to the internet was a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution, Bar and Bench reported. Based on the ruling, the court struck down rules framed by the Sree Narayana College in Kozhikode, which had prohibited inmates of the girls’ hostel from using their mobile phones between 6 pm and 10 pm.

The petitioner was Faheema Shirin, a BA English student of the college, Live Law reported. The petitioner had approached the High Court with a writ petition alleging that she had been expelled from the college for not following the restrictions on the use of her mobile phone. The plea said that the restriction hampered their learning process by blocking access to information.

The college also forbade undergraduate students from using their laptops on the hostel premises.

The petitioner said that when she flouted the ban on use of mobile phones, she was asked to leave the hostel at a short notice of 12 hours. Thereafter, her room was locked by the administration and she was not allowed to collect even her personal belongings.

Following this, Shirin approached the Kerala High Court alleging that the restrictions violated Articles 14 and 19 of the Indian Constitution. She also alleged that the college rules violated the University Grants Commission (Promotion of Equity in Higher Educational Institutions) Regulations, 2012 and the principles embodied in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, 1979.

The court accepted the petitioner’s arguments. It also agreed that internet, accessible through mobile phones or laptops, provided the students an avenue to gain knowledge or express themselves. In her judgement, Justice PV Asha relied Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Issac’s on Budget speech in 2017, in which he had said that the state government recognised the “right to internet” as a human right.

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