The Delhi High Court on Friday set aside the cap of 200 SMSs per day sent through a mobile phone SIM for personal communications but upheld the curb on unwanted commercial SMSs saying they infringed the “equally” important right to privacy of “unwilling recipients“.
“We are, therefore, of the opinion that the impugned provision (of Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) insofar as it covers non-UCCs (Unrestricted Unsolicited Commercial Communications) SMS in the present form as it exists, infringes the freedom of speech of the citizens.
“And the conditions imposed upon the freedom of speech is not reasonable which would be protected under Article 19 (2) (which deals with reasonable restrictions of freedom of speech) of the Constitution,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice A K Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.
The bench, however, made a distinction for unsolicited commercial calls and said that the restriction imposed by the TRAI on them was valid.
“We have already pointed out that the TRAI has found that UCC calls and SMSs were interfering with the personal lives of the individuals as often telemarketers would call them up for selling their products. All such calls sere unsolicited, i.e., the receiving party does not want to receive such calls or messages.
“These UCC messages disturb the recipients, intrude into their privacy, and impose a cost in terms of the time and efforts. In fact, they infringe the equally importance rights of the unwilling recipients,” it said.
Partly allowing the petition of Anil Kumar, secretary of NGO Telecom Watchdog, the court, however, granted liberty to TRAI “to come out with more appropriate regulations for regulating unsolicited non-UCCs SMSs that could meet the test of reasonableness under the Constitution.”