A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Centre to ensure that free unlimited calling, data usage and DTH facilities are provided to subscribers to ease “psychological stress” during the lockdown till May 3 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has also sought a direction to the Health Ministry to take appropriate steps to deal with psychological pressure mounting on individuals due to the lockdown or being kept in quarantine.

The plea sought directions to the government and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to invoke relevant terms of agreement of licences granted to DTH service providers and ask them to provide completely free and unlimited viewing facility of their channels and contents during the lockdown period.

It said they also be directed to exercise powers under appropriate provisions of law so that content of video streaming websites could be provided free of cost during lockdown.

The petition, filed by advocate Manohar Pratap, has said that social interactions by way of talking over phone, video calling and other modes of digital entertainment like watching TV channels on DTH platforms or contents on video streaming websites could be helpful in “lowering the psychological stress” caused by confinement during the lockdown.

It claimed that the Centre and state governments have taken various measures to help the citizens during lockdown by providing food and shelter and other means for survival but no steps have been taken to answer the psychological pressure which is mounting day by day on the citizens.

“Mental and psychological health are as important as physical health and less has been done in this regard by the government during lockdown. Most of the persons who got stranded away from their family and friends are living in deep psychological stress and there has been even two-three instances of suicides due to fear of isolation during treatment of coronavirus disease,” the plea said.

The petitioner has further said that unlimited free audio and video communication means would allow the stranded persons, who are away from their family, to contact them and it would help in dealing with present situation.

It said that free and unlimited access to Internet and satellite TV channels would offer better and wide mode of entertainment to individuals who are confined in home or in quarantine facilities.

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