In the case of Software Freedom Law Centre V. Union of India, The Central government allegedly blocked 14 mobile messaging apps on May 1 by issuing an order under Section 69A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, because these apps were allegedly being used for communication between criminals in the Jammu and Kashmir region, according to the appeal submitted by the Delhi-based nonprofit Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC). Two popular FOSS programmes named “Element” and “Briar,” which are allegedly used often by software engineers, technologists, inventors, and businesspeople, are included on the list of restricted programmes.
The usage of such FOSS software, according to SFLC’s argument, offered various advantages like improved interoperability, decreased costs, vendor independence, increased localization, and fostering local growth of the IT industry in India. It argued that denying such applications unreasonably restricts people’s ability to exercise their constitutionally protected rights to free speech, free expression, and the right to engage in trade and business.
The argument further stated that the order had not been made public and that it was in grave violation of the Natural Justice Principles because the Petitioners had not received any notice or opportunity to be heard as required by the relevant Blocking Rules, 2009 regulations. By claiming that it violates Articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution, the SFLC also asked for Rule 16 of the Information Technology (Procedure and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2019, to be revoked. They filed a motion with the Kerala High Court to overturn a central government ruling that outlawed some free and open-source software (FOSS) programs.
Kerala HC Order
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting as well as the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology were given notice of the plea and directed to file their reply by the Kerala High Court’s single judge, Justice Shoba Annamma Eapen. The following hearing will take place on May 29, 2023.