The petitioner, Faheema Shirin, is a student living in the hostel of Sree Narayana guru College, Chelannur, Kozhikode.
The inmates of the girls’ hostel are not allowed to use their phones from 10 p.m to 6 a.m which was changed on 27.06.2019 from 6 p.m to 10 p.m. In addition to this, the undergraduate cannot use their laptops also in the hostel. The petitioner opposed to these rules.
The petitioner claims that she met the Deputy Warden but she doesn’t respond. A
the meeting was held but no discussion regarding the restriction was made.
The warden then sent a notification in the WhatsApp group that if anyone would not follow the rule has to vacate the hostel.
The petitioner then approached the principal on 3.07.2019 and submitted a letter-writing that she would not follow the rule. On 05.07.2019 the petitioner’s parents were called and on the same day, she was notified to vacate the hostel immediately.
The loss of the housing made it impossible for Shirin to attend her college classes since it would require her to travel nearly 150 km every day from home. When she arrived to vacate her room, the door was locked, and Hostel authorities did not allow her to take her belongings.
The warden and staff member convened a meeting of all other inmates and directed them to give in writing their willingness for the rules to be made.
The hostel staff contended that the restriction on the use of phones was requested by some parents, but Shirin parents were not notified of these rules.
The restriction was against Clause 5 of the UGC guidelines, which prohibits gender discrimination. As the same restriction was not in the boy’s hostel. Shirin also observed that Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution has the freedom to access the internet under freedom of speech and expression. The right to privacy has also been infringed by confiscating the mobile phone.
The respondent has argued that while admission Shirin and her parents had signed an application, which stated she would obey the rule. The principal also claimed that there is no restriction on the use of laptops.
The Executive Director of SFLC.IN, an organization that provides legal services to protect civil liberties in the digital world was added as a third-party. They stated that restricting the usage of mobile phones and laptops in the hostels was an infringement of female students’ right to acquire knowledge through digital resources.
- Whether the restriction on mobile phones infringed on the fundamental rights of the petitioner?
- Whether the restriction prevented the students from “acquiring knowledge” during study hours from their cell phones, which could constitute an infringement upon a fundamental right?
- Imposing such restrictions is unreasonable, so the respondent shall re-admit the petitioner.
- The restrictions are unreasonable and infringe on the fundamental right of the petitioner.
- As the petitioner is an adult and can make his own decision, restrictions like this in the name of their protection would not be taken into consideration.
- Mobile has become an important instrument in this ear, so the restriction on it can hamper the studies of the student also.
Justice P.V Asha has suggested that for protecting children from any misuse of mobile phones, proper counseling should be made. Restricting their time limit to use the phone would not work.
- This case would help further when there would be any debate related to privacy issues or infringement of the fundamental right.
- The Judge reasoning on the case would be claimed as an adult should have the right to use his or her mobile phone as he or she wants or when he or she wants.
- This case has also shown the importance of the internet in today’s era.