People’s voice on internet


The country is facing an unprecedented health crisis in the form of the second wave of the more complicated variant of COVID-19 virus and an unexpected surge in infections across the country, has resulted in a tremendous strain on the existing health infrastructure which, this time as compared to last time, seems to be having a mismatch in the infected people’s requirements in terms of treatment including normal availability of beds, critical medicines, oxygen and the like. Despite the Central Government and state /UT Governments trying to cope up with the situation, there are many instances where people continued to suffer. There are instances where the suffering of the people in many cases, could not reach the concerned authorities for immediate redressing. As a sufficient measure to purge feelings of one’s near and dear on account of having suffered for want of proper and timely treatment etc, people very often give vent to their feelings and angry emotions in the social media and other modes available via internet. There can be certain instances, for example, in the State of Uttar Pradesh where terming few such posts as “rumour spreading”, authorities may have filed cases against the “aggrieved persons”. While most of such complaints and pointing out of flaws in the system or highlighting the deficiencies in the preparedness of the Government to deal with the crisis of such a magnitude may have been genuine, however, there could be chances where a twist or undesirable interpretation or creating of unnecessary panic and fears out of the situation, may have been noticed. However, the Supreme Court of India has asked the Centre and the State Governments not to “silence the voice of the people and their pleas for help on the presumption that they are raising false grievances on the internet.” In other words, the court, through a judgment by a Bench, taking cognisance of the human suffering due to the virus pandemic, any type of police action against those who air their grievances through the channels of internet, has been disallowed. If anyone complains about “shortage of oxygen, beds or doctors,” the same should not be treated “as spreading rumour”. While the court has made it clear that any type of suppressing ”the free flow of information on social media including the call for help from the people” and thus flouting the order would be taken as contempt of the court, it, therefore, leaves no scope of any type of action against an aggrieved person posting one’s views or details of suffering accentuated by inadequate or absence of medical facilities, on the internet. It is, however, presumed that no one would equally misuse the internet for purposes other than specified by the court in respect of the emerged unfortunate situation on account of the new variant virus striking the country with such a ferocity and not post such material which had the potentiality to create any law and order situation, inciting violence or disruption in medical services and thus go against the spirit of the Apex Court’s directives. While misgovernance was visible in respect of management of the crisis at numerous places across the country, people giving vent to their feelings on the internet as a result of that factor, should not suffer on another account, that of police action or any such action which led to suppression of free flow of information. Needless to add, there should be a mechanism evolved where grievances of the people in respect of the issues under reference could be heard and attempted to be resolved as early as possible