Published: 19th September 2019
Students allowed to use phones in hostel after Kerala HC says internet access is a fundamental right
The High Court had ruled in favour of a student Faheema Shirin, who was expelled from her college hostel for using a mobile phone
Three months ago, Faheema Shirin, a second year BA Literature in Sree Narayana Guru College, Chelannur was asked to vacate her room in the college hostel. The hostel's new set of rules prohibited its inmates from using mobile phones between 6 pm and 10 pm in the evening and Faheema wasn't in accord with this. This led to her breaking the rule and getting expelled.
But this is an old story. Faheema would probably be packing her bags to head back to the hostel. On Thursday, the Kerala High Court ruled in Faheema's favour in a writ petition that she'd filed. Justice P V Asha, in her landmark judgment, said that that right to access the internet is a fundamental right under the right to privacy, under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. She also said with access to the net through mobile phones lets the students learn and express themselves. The court also observed that mobile phones are an inevitable part of one's life today.
"My daughter's been using the internet since she was a child. She also refers it to study and make notes. It was very difficult for her to not use her phone in the evening," says Haksar RK, Faheema's father. "She insisted that she would use her phone during the prohibited hours and so the assistant warden had humiliated her for this. The principal also forced her to write a letter saying that she wouldn't obey the rules. Stating the same, they expelled her from the hostel the next day," he adds.
Haksar says that following the expulsion, Faheema had to travel around 75 km a day from home to college. "This took a toll on her health. She was unwell for a long time. Also, this badly affected her attendance," he says. "The court has now said that one should not be restrained from using the internet to study. This is a milestone. I don't think any other student has ever approached the court for such a case," he says.