‘Internet A Fundamental Right’: Supreme Court Directs J&K Govt To Review All Restrictions

The Supreme Court on Friday directed Jammu Kashmir government to review all restrictive orders within a week while delivering a verdict on a batch of petitions on communication restrictions in the Valley after the abrogation of Article 370.

Freedom to use the internet should be seen as part of fundamental rights as per Article 19 (1) (a), right to practice profession also protected under Article 19 (1) (g), the apex court said.

The Supreme Court said Section 144 cannot be used as a tool to oppress and quell dissenting opinion. 

Indefinite suspension of services is impermissible and must be subjected to judicial review, it added.

It also asked the J&K administration to restore Internet services in all institutions that provide essential services, such as hospitals, educational centres and so on.

The SC said the magistrates while passing prohibitory orders, should apply mind and follow the doctrine of proportionality.

The top court asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to put out all orders on restrictions in public domain to enable petitioners to place those in court in future.

“Kashmir has seen a lot of violence. We will try our best to balance the human rights and freedoms with the issue of security,” the SC said. 

Speaking to the media after the pronouncement of the verdict, advocate Vrinda Grover said, “As far as internet shutdown is concerned, the court held that freedom of the internet is part of freedom of speech and expression and therefore is given protection under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution. It also said the freedom of the press is impacted by the shutdown of communication and the internet.”

Another lawyer added that the top court held that “indefinite internet ban is not permissible under the Constitution and is an abuse of power”.

The Congress welcomed the apex court’s decision.

“We welcome judgement. First time SC has talked about how  people of J&K feel,” said Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.

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