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‘Access to internet fundamental right, review all orders of suspension of Internet’, SC to J&K


 Srinagar, Jan 10 (KNS): While delivering the judgement on the restrictions in Kashmir after Article 370 revocation, The Supreme Court on Friday asked the J-K administration to review all the restrictions pertaining to the suspension of Internet services in the region.

The court said the right to access the Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution, subject to reasonable restrictions under Article 19 (2).
Trade and commerce through the Internet is also protected under Article 19 (1) (g) of the Constitution which guarantees the fundamental right to trade, business, occupation or profession, it said.
On prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, the court said it could not be used as a tool to suppress difference of opinions. It said the administration could not refuse to produce orders issued after nullification of Article 370.
A Bench headed by Justice NV Ramana said the test of proportionality needed to be satisfied. This freedom could be restricted only after relevant factors were considered and only if there were no other options.
The apex court ordered forthwith review of orders suspending the Internet in Jammu and Kashmir, saying such suspension could not be for an unlimited period. It could only be for a limited time period and is subject to judicial review, it added.
Internet suspension without any particular duration and indefinitely is a violation of the Telecom Rules, the top court said. It ordered the Jammu and Kashmir administration to produce all orders invoking Section 144 of the CrPC.
While issuing restrictive orders under Section 144 of the CrPC, a magistrate should apply his/her mind and apply doctrine of proportionality to strike a balance between danger to national security and liberty of citizens. Repetitive orders under Section 144 of CrPC without giving reasons and without being based on material facts will be violative of citizens’ right to various freedoms, the court noted. (KNS)

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