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Supreme Court notice to Center on petition against internet shutdown to prevent copying during exams

The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Center on a plea against internet shutdown by some states as a measure to prevent cheating during examinations.

Issuing notice on a petition by the Software Freedom Law Centre, a bench of Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and Justices S Ravindra Bhat and PS Narasimha asked the government to “put out an affidavit… Whether there is a standard protocol or not raised by the petitioner and if so to what extent and how the protocol is followed and enforced”.

It gave the government three weeks to file an affidavit.

The court initially noted that the petitioner had already filed a petition before various High Courts and hence should go back to the High Courts. But advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioner, said that this is a pan-India problem and four states have been made parties.

It said the power to impose internet shutdowns comes from the Indian Telegraph Act and the authorities refused to publish these orders despite the apex court’s decision in the Anuradha Bhasin case.

Grover said that in Rajasthan the state had told the high court that it would no longer hold him for cheating, but he did it again.

“What is the limit? There is a legal question involved. Is this a public emergency or is it in the interest of public safety? … I am not saying that fraud should not be stopped… but will proportionality allow,” she said .

The CJI said that perhaps proportionality would require him to install a jammer.

“They can check my mobile devices,” the lawyer said, adding that today everything is digital.

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