Fundamental rights meant a vital component in the Constitution of India. It has been stated in the Part III of the Constitution, under the Article 12 to 35 and is also defined as Magna Carta of India. The fundamental rights are aimed to promote the ideal for the political democracy in India. They protect the rights and liberties of the citizens, and at the same time, prevent the establishment of an authoritarian and despotic rule in the country. The fundamental rights are provided to all the individuals without any type of discrimination or exclusion. They uphold the equality and dignity of the individuals and maintain the unity among the people.
NEED TO RECOGNISE RIGHT TO INTERNET AS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
The world today is complex and concise; the individuals have been performing their activities through mobile phones and related devices that demands internet access to function properly. The internet is an ocean of information with helps the users to stay updated and connected with the things going around them. Therefore, Broadband and mobile internet can be considered as a lifeline for the people around the world.
Internet is an important component for to citizen to regulate and check the government functioning. As it plays a key role in accessing the information and take decisions accordingly. Being a residence of a democratic nation, Indian citizens have the right to keep a check on and observe the activities of the government and concern authorities, internet becomes an easy and valuable source of these information. The people are able to update themselves with all the ongoing activities and upcoming projects through their mobile phones with the facility of internet. Initially, only newspapers were available to know the happenings, whereas, today the news can reach the people even before in is printed and delivered through the newspaper.
Internet and broadband have been a bliss for the boost of the technological industry. There has been a remarkable expansion in the field of science and technology with the assistance of internet. We can observe the growth of the online applications that help an individual to order food, such as Zomato, swiggy, etc. some other apps can help to book for a mechanic or even the beautician, an individual can now call a cab at their door steps just with one click; this is the implications of the internet.
During the Covid-19 pandemic and nationwide lockdown, the individuals were able to practice work-from-home only because of the availability of internet. Under such circumstance, right to internet becomes necessary to promote the right to education. The schools have started teaching the students through online mode, even the examinations, activities, assignments, etc. are conducted online; thus, internet becomes necessary to attend the classes. The internet has ensured the continuation of the regular activities of the individuals in a different manner but accurately.
INTERNET AS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT
Recently, there has been a debate over the inclusion of the Right to internet under the fundamental rights. It was emphasised that the Right to Internet must be included under the Right to freedom along with the Right to Speech and Expression. Kerala High Court in Faheema Shirin vs State of Kerala (2019) declared the Right Internet access as a fundamental right forming a part of the Right to Privacy and the Right to Education under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.
In present digital world where almost, every service is being digitised, it is important to recognise the Right to Internet access as an independent right. Court observed that the internet acts as a learning tool and nobody can impose restrictions on it, citing discipline.
Human Rights Council of the United Nations also regards the Right of access to the Internet as a fundamental freedom and a tool to ensure the Right to education. Also, the Supreme Court has declared that access to the internet is protected under Article 19 of the Constitution.
CHALLENGES BEFORE UNIFORM INTERNET ACCESS
Though, the recognition of such a fundamental right is laudable, it does have reasonable restrictions under specified circumstances. The judgement gave administration space to restrict internet access on the condition that it’s proportionate to the problem identified. This formulation seems fuzzy and could provide enough scope for administration to justify internet snap-offs in various cases Further, a digital divide in the economy would render a sizeable proportion of the population unable to enjoy the fundamental right to Internet. This will eventually lead furthering of social disparities. Moreover, the rising number of cyber related crimes would leave more people susceptible in absence of proper guidelines related to the Right to Internet access.
Internet itself is a great force which has shackled the monotony and global order by its brute force. Anything which has power can be used in both good and bad ways as we know internet can be a boon and bane at same time. It rests with the people after recognizing internet as fundamental right how to utilize the power that comes with internet. Both good and bad powers have large implication on the lives of people. As both Supreme and High Courts through various judgements in country have to strike balance between nights of individuals and right of state, preservation of balance should be of utmost importance to enable individual to become a balanced and responsible citizen.
The Right to Internet access and digital literacy will empower citizens with increased access to information, services and the creation of better livelihood opportunities.