Status of VSNL censorship of IP-telephony sites

There has been no change in the situation since August 9, 2001, when the judge gave the following ruling:

09.08.2001Present : Mr.Ashok Aggarwal for the petitioner.
None for the respondent

Liberty to approach the court for interim directions in case any action similar to that complained of in the writ petition is taken.
Liberty is also granted to the petitioner to move an application for early hearing.

August 09, 2001 Mukul Mudgal. J.


What this means is:

1) VSNL was pressing for dismissal of the matter, saying, firstly, that the sites talked about in our petition are no longer blocked. And secondly, that Internet telephony is a bad thing -- though I don't understand how that is relevant. In this, the court did not agree with VSNL.

2) The judge said the court had lots of pressing matters, which I can certainly vouch for. Since this wasn't a pressing matter, he decided to postpone this one, but made it clear that if VSNL again resorted to blocking Internet sites, we could approach the court and have the matter taken up immediately. That is like a Damocles' sword hanging over VSNL.

If anyone is aware of any Internet sites that VSNL blocks, please let me know, mail me

The attitude of VSNL is curious -- even at this hearing, their lawyer went on and on telling the judge how terrible a thing Internet telephony was, until my lawyer interrupted and said that had nothing to do with the matter at hand.


On September 13, 1999, when VSNL Response to Arun Mehta's Petition on Net censorship was filed.

On February 18, 1999, Justice C.M. Nayar passed the following order (VSNL has still not filed a response to our petition as of April 25, 1999):

C.W. No. 4732/98 7 C.M. No. 9597/98

The learned counsel for respondent seeks further time to file reply. Let the same be filed within four weeks. Rejoinder, if any, shall be filed within four weeks thereafter. List on May 18, 1999.


On December 9, 1998, the matter did not come up for hearing today, but VSNL's lawyer told us that the sites

Vocaltec (

WebPhone (

Net2Phone (

aren't blocked any more! Nor are any other sites that we are aware of -- if you come across any, do let us know.


Position as of November 1998:

The site is blocked.

We have learnt that the site Sense/NET has also been blocked.

I have filed a petition in the High Court asking VSNL to lift its censorship of Internet sites, provide a list of sites so banned, and other clarifications.

The censorship hasn't stopped yet. Not only web access, but even mail is affected!

I received the following replies from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India:

May 13, 1998:

This is with reference to your letters dated 11th March and 2nd April, 1998 and this office letter of even number dated the 7th April, 1998 regarding VSNL ban on Internet telephony / blocking of access to websites providing information on Internet based voice applications.

In the above context, I am directed to advise that TRAI is siezed of the issue related to voice telephony on Internet and is actively engaged in an exercise to look into all the issues associated with Internet. It may however be noted the TRAI has no jurisdiction over the content on Internet.

(Anit Kaur Gill)

Under Secretary (Tech)


Mr. Arun Mehta
B-69, Lajpat Nagar – I
New Delhi – 110024

April 7, 1998


Please refer to your letter dated March 11, 1998 and E-Mail message dated March 20, 1998 regarding VSNL ban on Internet telephony/conference.

I am directed to say that the matter is under examination. In its communication to this Authority, VSNL had claimed that in accordance with its terms and conditions on GIAS services and Indian Telegraph Act 1885, Internet telephony was banned, and VSNL advised its customers to desist from using telephony services on the Internet. In the context of issues raised in your aforesaid letter, this Authority has asked for additional information from the VSNL.

Yours faithfully

(Mrs Anit Kaur Gill)

Under Secretary (Technical)


The sites that we know of so far that aren't accessible to anybody via a VSNL Internet connection are:

Vocaltec (

WebPhone (

Net2Phone (

The VSNL routers block access to these sites, as a result, it is impossible to even send mail to them in the usual fashion -- we need to open a mail account in the US, and send mail from there.

For those who understand what this means, hear is a traceroute from my machine to which shows that VSNL's routers are at fault:

Initiating trace...
1 RTT: 150 ms,
2 RTT: 330 ms,
3 RTT: 320 ms,
4 RTT: 2073 ms,
5 RTT: 741 ms,

Destination is unreachable!

In response to our protests we have received the following messages from VSNL:

  1. From the Help Desk
  2. Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 10:38:25 +0500 (GMT+0500)
    To: Arun Mehta <>
    Subject: Re: unable to access

    this site is not accessable fron vsnl

    With Warm Regards,

    Helpdesk, GIAS, New Delhi.

    Mail me at :

    Contact No. : 91-11-3747310,3361111 Extn. 5315

    On Mon, 30 Mar 1998, Arun Mehta wrote:

    > I wrote the following to you this morning. Subsequently, I also spoke to
    > Mr. Janardhan on the subject. On second thoughts, this does not seem to be
    > a dns problem, because the address does resolve. It's just that the page
    > won't download. It is not a temporary problem as Mr. Janardhan seemed to
    > suggest. I've been trying for several days now.
    > Arun
    > >There seems to be a problem with your dns again. I am unable to access the
    > above url from here, though if I telnet to an American account, I can
    > access it from there. Please fix the problem URGENTLY.
    > Arun Mehta, B-69, Lajpat Nagar-I, New Delhi-110024. Phone 6841172

  3. From the General Manager, Internet Services, Bombay

Date: Sun, 5 Apr 1998 16:36:40 +0530 (IST)
From: Neeraj Sonker <>
To: Arun Mehta <>
Subject: Re: unable to access

hello! mr mehta,

as part of contract terms and conditions, we don't encourage voice
over ip.


Neeraj Sonker Tel:91 22 2624020 Extn 2167
Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd Fax:91 22 2624070
2 MG Road, Fort
Bombay - 400 001

I believe that VSNL Bombay is responsible for this censorship. Please let Mr. Sonker know what you think of this policy at

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