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Rajasthan Government Issues Yet Another Internet Ban to Prevent Cheating During Examinations

All network lines, except broadband lease lines, were closed in the targeted areas in Jaipur and Kota divisions between 11 am and 2 pm on January 7.

The Rajasthan government had imposed an internet shutdown in several districts of the State to prevent incidences of paper leak during the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC) examinations on January 7, 2024, according to a report by NDTV. As per the report, all network lines, except broadband lease lines, were closed from 11 am to 2 pm of the day. Other news reports stated that the shutdown was ordered for the period from 10 am to 3 pm.

The shutdown order applied for Jodhpur and Kota divisions, as per BNN News. However, citizens from Jaipur also took to Twitter informing about the internet disruption in the city.

 

Why it matters:

Internet shutdowns during State examinations have become a norm in Rajasthan. The authorities have arbitrarily resorted to internet ban for unwarranted situations such as conducting exams, affecting fundamental rights of all citizens of the State. In 2022, an RTI filed by the Internet Freedom Foundation (IFF) revealed that the Committee formed by the Rajasthan government to review internet shutdown orders was merely confirming such orders without recording the findings regarding its necessity and legality. Several petitions have been filed at the Rajasthan High Court and the Supreme Court challenging the shutdowns on grounds that such measures affected people’s right to livelihood as people’s jobs, businesses are largely dependent on the access to internet in the digital age.

Supreme Court’s notice to the Union government:

In September 2022, the Supreme Court had issued a notice to the government in response to a plea filed by the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC) against internet suspensions for the prevention of cheating during exams in five states, including Rajasthan. SFLC pointed out the same point that’s mentioned in this plea—that Anuradha Bhasin guidelines are not being followed. The Court had asked the Central Government to clarify the standard protocol, and to check if states are following the prescribed rules.

In March 2023, a Rajasthan High Court advocate had filed a plea in the Supreme Court seeking contempt action against the state government for not following the apex court’s directions on internet shutdowns in the Anuradha Bhasin case. The petitioner Chhaya Rani had highlighted how the internet shutdown affected judicial work and access to justice, among other disruptions. Rani had also stated that the internet shutdown order was passed in apprehension of cheating and malpractice during exams, which is “vague and arbitrary” indicating the “incompetence” of the concerned authorities, including the Rajasthan Public Service Commission. The apex court had later dismissed the petition directing the petitioner to approach the High Court, according to a LiveLaw report.

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Written By

Curious about the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. For story tips, please feel free to reach out at sarasvati@medianama.com

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