Gauhati HC Refused To Stay Mobile Internet Restrictions During State Recruitment Exams

gauhati high court HC LAW INSIDER
gauhati high court HC LAW INSIDER

Shashwati Chowdhury

Published on: August 31, 2022 at 19:58 IST

The petition challenging the 18.08.2022 notification temporarily cutting off mobile internet connectivity during State recruitment exams was denied by the Gauhati High Court.

Invoking the powers given under Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885 and the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017, the impugned order was issued by the Principal Secretary to the Government of Assam’s Home and Political Department.

It had stipulated that on August 21 and August 28, 2022, mobile internet connections must be shut down for 4 hours in 24 districts that housed centres for the written examinations used to fill almost 30,000 positions for Grade-III and Grade-IV services in various State departments

The petitioner’s advocate argued that the notification violates her client’s ability to exercise fundamental rights protected by Article 19(1) of the Indian Constitution and that, in accordance with Section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, internet services could not be suspended to prevent cheating in test rooms.

She argued that the only option for such a suspension of this right was to follow the procedure outlined in Article 19(2) of the Constitution, which, in her view, was not done in the current instance. The measure was taken established to prevent cheating using a mobile phone and to promote a free, fair, and transparent conduct of the exam.

The Advocate General for Assam said that the temporary suspension of mobile data services had only been chosen as a last resort after the State developed comprehensive preparations based on Standard Operative Procedure to guarantee a free, fair, and malpractice-free hiring process.

The Court stated that until the State files an affidavit setting forth its position and providing supporting documentation for record, the issue of whether mobile data services might be temporarily terminated to prevent cheating could not be considered. In order to do this, a notice was issued, and the senior Government Advocate, Assam, accepted it.

The petitioner had not presented a case on the facts to support his prayer for interim relief, according to the court. The Court denied the request for interim orders, taking into account that the suspension of data services was not to be extended to the exam set for September 11, 2022, and that there would be some disruption to the exam’s conduct.

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