Analyzing The Constitutionality of Internet Restrictions In J&K
A communication lockdown was imposed in Kashmir under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules (‘Suspension Rules’) on 4th August 2019 that disabled the internet connectivity and mobile phone networks. By the Suspension Rules, the central government of Kashmir can curb the telecom services during the time of an emergency to ensure public safety. This decision also included a solitary review that would be headed by a committee of three bureaucrats.
The restoration of the internet had also resulted in the restoration of social media websites. The fact cannot be ignored that thirteen suspension orders were passed between January 2020 and May 2020. Despite the relaxation in the suspension order of internet connectivity, the speed has continued to remain restricted to 2G (where the entire world currently makes use of 4G internet).
The issue of the 2G internet connection in Kashmir was addressed to the Supreme Court on 11th May 2020. The internet issue flamed up during the time of the pandemic. It was argued that during the time of a crisis, it becomes extremely difficult for the doctors and the public at large to access crucial information regarding the virus. Even the students are facing this problem as the academic activities are taking place through an online mode and it gets really difficult to access the online education material with the help of 2G internet. As a reply, the central government argued that such measures were taken for protecting the interest of national security and to prevent the misuse of the internet by the militants and terrorists.
The Supreme Court had opened its judgments during the hearing of January and May by explaining the role of the court to strike a balance between liberty and security. In a question framed this way, a court would choose security over liberty, but the court should have simply applied the principles, and decide whether the decision taken by the government was constitutional or not.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Arush Mittal is currently pursuing Law at Hidayatullah National Law University.
They can be contacted at https://www.linkedin.com/in/arush-mittal-64435819b/
Edited by: Swathi Ashok Nair
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