The Supreme Court on January 10th, 2020 said that the indefinite internet shutdown in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) is an abuse of power and directed the administration to review all restrictive orders in place since the Centre ended special status to the former state in August 2019.
The top court observed that access to the internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution. The verdict brought a massive relief to the people of Kashmir after months of communication and internet lockdown.
The internet was shutdown in Kashmir following the scrapping of Article 370. The ban on the internet has crossed 150 days, which is reportedly the longest ever in a democracy.
“We declare that the freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g). The restriction upon such fundamental rights should be in consonance with the mandate under Article 19 (2) and (6) of the Constitution, inclusive of the test of proportionality,” the three-judge Supreme Court bench held, as Live Law reported.
The court further directed the J&K administration to make all restrictive orders public so they can be challenged legally.
The bench also criticized the repeated use of Section 144 and said it “can’t be used as a tool to oppress difference of opinion.” The three-judge bench headed by Justice N V Ramana included Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice BR Gavai.