General ban on online content should not curtail the right to know: SC

THE Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern whether general ban on all online content curtails the fundamental right to know.

Published: 12th April 2017 04:26 AM  |   Last Updated: 12th April 2017 04:26 AM   |  A+A-

Supreme Court (File | PTI)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: THE Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed concern whether general ban on all online content curtails the fundamental right to know.

The court was hearing the plea related to banning of pre-natal sex determination advertisements and contents on the Internet.

A bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra observed: “A general ban on all online content will curtail the fundamental right to know of a genuine information seeker. We will be curtailing the right to know under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.”

However, Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi, who was asked by court to assist it, informed the bench that there was a distinction between the right to know of an information seeker and others who do it with commercial perspectives.  

Centre said that it is difficult to control or supervise the content on the Internet but the stand of the other side is that there should be no advertising. The court then asked AG and petitioner’s lawyer advocate Sanjay Parekh to file their written responses on whether the ban on sex determination advertisements under Section 22 of the Prenatal and Pre-Conception Sex Diagnostic Techniques Act is restricted only to paid advertisements and slated the hearing for April 13.

Senior advocates Harish Salve and Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for search engines Yahoo and Google, said intermediaries are not directly responsible for people uploading content online and they cannot block the information on the information expressway but they can certainly block the advertisements with regard to pre-natal sex determination under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act.

Centre also informed the bench that the nodal agency has already been constituted.  

Earlier this year, the court had ordered Google, Microsoft and Yahoo to immediately set up their own in-house expert bodies to ensure deletion of materials which do not abide with the Indian laws.


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