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PIL filed in SC against internet shutdown in Rajasthan for civil service exam, holding up virtual courts, plea says women misbehaved with

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A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the order of the Divisional Commissioner, Jaipur Division to conduct Rajasthan Administration Services (Prelims) Examination conducted by the Rajasthan Public Service Commission, seeking relief against the suspension of Internet services in Jaipur and several other districts.

Advocate Vishal Tiwari filed the petition seeking directions from the states not to obstruct the Judicial Services, Virtual hearing/E-filing of cases by suspending Internet services in future and immediately enforce and initiate guidelines to comply with the dictum laid down by the Supreme Court in the Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India case.

In order to conduct the examination, the order states that Internet will be shut from 9 am to 1 pm to minimize the chances of cheating/copying. Internet was suspended from 8 am and was suspended till 1:20 pm in various districts such as Bharatpur, Dholpur, Karauli and Sawai Madhopur. The imposition of internet shut down to prevent cheating and malpractice during the examination shows the incompetence of the Rajasthan Government and the Rajasthan Public Service Commission.

While conducting the Rajasthan Eligibility Exam for Teachers (REET 2021), internet shutdowns were imposed in the districts of Ajmer, Jhunjhunu, Kota, Bundi, Baran, Jhalawar from 6 am to 6 pm on 26.09.2021. The petitioner submitted, “Such imposition of internet shut down is manifestly against the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public SafetyRules), 2017 and such order imposing shut down goes against the dictum laid down by the Supreme Court of India in Anuradha Bhasin v.Union of India (AIR 2020 SC 1308).”

The petition also prays for a direction to all states for not adopting undignified methods towards women candidates and other candidates during any examination in their respective States and also to compensate the women candidates and others whose clothes/other property was damaged by the Security/Police by cutting the side clothes or by any other method during the exam of RAS pre-2021 and other previous exams conducted by the State, in order to Secure the Right to live with Dignity and Stop Harassment in the name of preventing cheating in examinations.

The petitioner reminds that such arbitrary shutdown of internet services does not only violate the constitutional provisions of Article 19 and such also imposes a barrier on the access to justice which is a due fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution. Under the light of Covid-19, courts are being accessed through video conference facilities and therefore an arbitrary internet shutdown during the crucial court working hours on a Wednesday morning (27.10.2021) has affected many citizens of its rights. Such action has led to severe violation of fundamental rights.

The petitioner also submitted that the actions of the State also has been extremely humiliating for women candidates, various news and reports have shown that in various examination centres, particularly in Bikaner, male security guards are cutting the sleeves of a woman candidate at the entrance of the examination centre. Such act of humiliation has also been cited as the prevention mechanism against cheating and malpractice. Such incompetence of the respondents has been a source of humiliation for women candidates, the petition said.

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