The move of the department of telecommunications (DoT) to block 73 links (URLs) to articles that are critical of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) sets a wrong precedent. The DoT may have been acting on the orders of the Gwalior bench of MP high court, but it could have exercised some judgement or challenged the order. Worse, the DoT has also closed the UGC link, which merely states that IIPM is not recognised by it.
Far too many sites or links are blocked because someone files a complaint. This tactic is adopted to simply curb criticism, whether genuine or not. Courts need to be far more vigilant before agreeing to a plea by an aggrieved party. For, sometimes genuine complaints that seek to correct a misleading piece of information on issues of public importance are banned.
Second, such court orders stay in place until a case is resolved. Given the horrendously slow pace of our court proceedings, the case can go on for years before any decision is reached, which means criticism is blocked for this entire period. This is not just unfair, but also against our fundamental right to freedom of expression. Either such cases should be resolved quickly, or the ban, if any, should be lifted as soon as possible.
IIPM head Arindam Chaudhuri has declared that he doesn’t crave UGC recognition, pointing out that even the highly acclaimed institute, the Hyderabad-based ISB has no such recognition. One lauds Chaudhuri for his stand. If he has no problems with the UGC not recognising him, then why has he requested the court to block the UGC link?