The Supreme Court, on the 10th of January, reviewed a petition filed against the suspension of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir by the Central Government of India.
On the 10th of January, the Supreme Court rejected the Central Government’s argument regarding the suspension of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. During the Court proceedings, the Prime Minister Narendra Modi led Government said the suspension was due to the lack of technology to allow selective online access.
However, the Court refused to accept the Government’s justification and said, “If such a contention is accepted, the Government would have a free pass to put a complete Internet blockage every time. Such complete blocking/prohibition perpetually cannot be accepted by this court.”
Though the Court said complete internet shutdown is against the right to free speech, it said it understood the need for the same as access to the internet may promote terrorist activities in Jammu and Kashmir. It said although the Government wants to achieve peace and stability in the Union Territory, “excessively burdening” the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir by violating the right to free speech, one of the fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution, is not acceptable.
Concluding the court hearing, the Supreme Court gave its final verdict regarding the case and passed a series of orders.
The SC ordered the Central Government to review its internet suspension orders within 7 days.
Restoration of all local and government bodies’ websites in Jammu and Kashmir.
Restoration of internet services in important service providing institutions like hospitals, educational centers and offices.
The Supreme Court also ordered the Central Government to give proper justification and reasons if, in the future, the State Government decides to suspend internet services.
Internet services in Jammu and Kashmir have been suspended since the 5th of August, the day Amit Shah, the Home Minister of India, announced the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.
With the abrogation of Article 370, citizens of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering due to lack of access to communication channels and the normal lifestyle of the citizens was disturbed. With the judgement of the SC, the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir hope to get access to limited internet connection and are likely to feel more relaxed.
Stay tuned for further updates.