Ban of Online Info on Sex Determination Flouts Right to Know: Govt

AG Mukul Rohatgi told the apex court that the right to know cannot be curtailed by banning information on the web.

Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that the right to know is a fundamental right, and it cannot be curtailed by banning information on the internet.

His response came after the apex court asked him to assist in a matter related to banning of pre-natal sex determination advertisements and content on the internet.

There is a distinction between information and advertisement. A person, out of curiosity, wants to know or study something. The right to know is a fundamental right and we cannot curtail it.

Advocate Binu Tamta, appearing for Centre, said that it is difficult to control or supervise the content on the internet, but the stand of the other side is that there should be no advertising.

Internet majors, Microsoft and Google, told the bench that they cannot block the information on the information expressway, but they can certainly block the advertisements with regard to pre-natal sex determination under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act.

The counsel for Google said it will comply with the apex court’s direction by removing advertisements based on terms linked to gender selection tests, but cannot delete the contents with regard to research materials or medical journals.

The Internet majors said that if the content with regard to pre-natal sex determination is blocked, then entire research materials or journals will get blocked.

The bench asked the parties to submit their written submissions and posted the matter for detailed hearing to 13 April.

(With inputs from PTI.)