KOCHI: In a landmark verdict, the Kerala High Court on Thursday held that the right to have access to the internet is part of the fundamental Right to Education as well as the Right to Privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution. The court made it clear that enforcement of discipline shall not be by blocking the ways and means of the students to acquire knowledge.
The restriction on the use of the internet would be completely out of place in the modern world and that such restrictions cannot be imposed even on the request of parents as college-going students are adults. Justice P V Asha also observed that girl students cannot be prevented from accessing the internet on mobile phones during study hours at college hostels.
‘Right of the students must be permitted’
The court made the observation while ordering the principal of Sree Narayana Guru College, Kozhikode, to readmit Faheema Shirin R K, third-semester BA English student of the college, who had been expelled from the college hostel for using mobile phone beyond permitted hours. The petitioner challenged the hostel regulation that female students should not use mobile phones during study hours -- between 6pm and 10pm. Being an adult, she claimed, nobody has any authority to interfere with her freedom to use mobile phones.
The college claimed that such a restriction was brought in following requests from parents about the misuse of mobile phones by students. “When the Human Rights Council of the United Nations has found that the right to access to the internet is a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure the right to education, a rule or instruction which impairs the said right of the students cannot be permitted to stand in the eye of the law,” observed the court.