Restrictions in IOK – The Indian Supreme Court ruled. On Friday, India’s Supreme Court ordered authorities to review internet service suspension in Indian-administered Kashmir within a week.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government imposed on the Muslim-majority zone a debilitating contact and security shutdown before withdrawing its autonomy on August 5.
Since then, the Himalayan region has been without the internet-the world’s longest.
Modi’s administration said the communication curbs were intended to prevent separatists from violence.
The top court said that the indefinite suspension violated the telecommunications laws of India and directed authorities in Kashmir to review internet suspension and other restrictions within a week.
“It can not be an arbitrary exercise of power to suspend free movement, the Internet and basic freedoms,” the court said.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover said the court also directed the Indian government to disclose all orders that impose a lockdown in Kashmir in August following the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution granting special status to Kashmir.
“What the court said is that the internet must be restored immediately for essential services… if they don’t remove them, people are free to appeal them and they will be challenged in the courts,” Grover told APN.
The court held that the shutdown of the Internet had an impact on the freedom of the press that is part of freedom of speech and expression.
“Internet freedom is a fundamental right,” said NV Ramana of the Supreme Court, issuing the decision.
It is essential in the sense that, in theory, the Supreme Court has ruled that Internet access is a fundamental right. It is a fundamental right and can not be refusedANURADHA BHASIN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR OF KASHMIR TIMES
Modi’s move to Kashmir was accompanied by a harsh crackdown, with New Delhi sending tens of thousands of additional troops to the already heavily militarized region, imposing a sweeping curfew, arresting thousands, and virtually cutting off all communications.
Since then, authorities have relaxed some restrictions, lifted roadblocks and restored landlines and cell phone services. The internet in the Kashmir Valley has yet to be restored.
We urged students to return to school and company to reopen, but the region’s top political leaders continue to be imprisoned or detained.
“Now, is the government going to lift the restrictions? Nobody can answer that right now,” said APN reporter, reporting from New Delhi.
“But what the court said most importantly is that no government can arbitrarily impose internet shutdowns because the right to the internet is part of Article 19 of the Indian Constitution.” Ghulam Nabi Azad, leader of the opposition Congress, and Anuradha Bhasin, editor of The Kashmir Times, were the main petitioners in the court case.
It can not be an arbitrary exercise of power to suspend free movement, the Internet and fundamental freedomsIndian SUPREME COURT
Bhasin said the restrictions had crippled press freedom, essential services, and even family-to-family communications, bringing untold misery to people.
“It is important in the sense that, in theory, the Supreme Court has ruled that Internet access is a fundamental right. It is a fundamental right and can not be refused,” Bhasin told APN.
“The internet shutdown has almost killed the media in Jammu and Kashmir as there is no information, no content, no one writes freely and journalists operate in an atmosphere of fear because the only place you can work is the media facilitation center with inadequate facilities.”
Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, who argued the case of the government, said authorities were acting on the basis of intelligence and military facts, provocative material and speeches, and false news, images, and videos spread on social media.
In court, Mehta had argued that “modern terrorism relies heavily on the Internet” and views social media as its most effective weapon.
Speaker of the BJP GVL Narasimha Rao said the government should review the decision of the court and “act appropriately.”
“The MHA[ home ministry] relaxed all restrictions on its own and the internet was to be resumed in due course,” he said. News report on Restrictions in IOK – The Indian Supreme Court ruled.