Ban On Pre-Paid SMS: Activist Moves NHRC, Demands Revocation of Ban

Terming the ban on Pre-Paid SMS service in Jammu and Kashmir as a violation of  Human  Rights and also desecration of fundamental right to expression as enshrined  under the constitution of India, A Jammu based Human Rights Activist Deepak Sharma has approached the National Human Rights Commission at New Delhi with a plea seeking directions to the competent authorities for lifting the ban on pre-paid SMS Services.

 Prepaid sms banArraying Chief Minister, J&K State, Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Chairman TC & Secretary (T), Ministry of   Communications & IT, Department of Telecommunications, as respondents the instant petition has been filed by the Human Rights Activist seeking the intervention of the rights panel to safeguard and protect the constitutional rights of the citizens of the state.

In his petition dated 14/April/2013, Deepak Sharma has submitted to the Chairman, NHRC that the ban on SMS services of Prepaid mobile subscribers of the state is unconstitutional, un democratic, useless, illogical and has become totally irrelevant especially in present times with the advancement and wide use of technologies like Whatsapp, social networking sites like face book, orkut and twitter.

Supporting his petition, the activist has also argued that the government’s decision to ban pre-paid SMS service on the pretext of rumors spreading and resulting in law and order problems can no way be justified because there is a wide spread use of some messaging services like Whatsapp these days as apart from sending messages it also sends videos, audios, files etc in an amazingly fast speed that too free of cost and any person with smart phone which is available with a mere cost of 3 to 4 thousand can access all the advance applications on his cell and interact with anyone and forward his message without any check. 

 The petitioner states that this ban is discriminatory because it only curtails the rights of the under privileged people who cannot afford to buy smart phones. It has also been argued that the people of the state especially youth and students are suffering a lot due to non-availability of the SMS service because due to this ban they are not able to receive messages from universities, banking messages, job employment alerts, rail and air ticket confirmation messages.

Terming the ban discriminatory the activist states that the order of the Government to ban the SMS services of the prepaid mobile subscribers of the state on the pretext of maintaining law and order, puts a grave question mark on the integrity, loyalty and patriotism of all the prepaid mobile subscribers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and thus projects the subscribers of prepaid mobile in a very poor light and with suspicions in public life and thus the ban on SMS is a clear violation of the right of the prepaid mobile subscribers to live a dignified life.

 In his prayer to the Human Rights Panel, the petitioner has said that he though appreciates and respects the decision of the State Government in safeguarding the security interest of the state and its citizens but putting a ban on the pre paid subscribers only and that too for a long period of almost 3 years is illogical and need to be reviewed and quashed by the concerned competent authorities.

 Deepak has also informed that within days, he along with other rights activists from the state may approach the Court of Law with a Public Interest Litigation claiming that they have all the facts to prove the ban order “unconstitutional and discriminatory”. 

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