OPPOSITION parties have hailed the Supreme Court’s observation that prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 cannot be used indefinitely to suppress freedom of speech and expression and difference of opinion is “path-breaking”. A three-judge SC Bench has also said the internet is part of citizens’ fundamental rights under Article 19 as enshrined in the Constitution while hearing pleas challenging internet ban in Jammu & Kashmir since August 4,2019. Freedom of speech and conducting business on the Internet are protected under the Constitution, the Supreme Court said on Friday while directing the Jammu and Kashmir administration to immediately review curb orders. Any order suspending Internet issued under the Suspension Rules, must adhere to the principle of proportionality and must not extend beyond necessary duration, it said.
The judgement came on pleas filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times and Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad which challenged the curbs imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre’s abrogation of provisions of Article 370 on August 5 last year, reports PTI. Terming “historic” the Supreme Court order on internet ban in Kashmir, the Congress on Friday said that the entire country had been worried as it did not know the situation in Kashmir.“That is why we had filed a petition and sought clarification,” senior lawyer and Congress Rajya Sabha member Kapil Sibal .Sibal said that he wanted to ask home minister Amit Shah as to what was the urgency for suspending internet.“I ask the home minister to listen to people. Do not just rain lathis on people,” he said. Sibal said that the apex court order will restore free flow of information from the region. He also said that the SC observation that prohibitory orders under CrPC Section 144 cannot be used indefinitely to suppress freedom of speech and expression and difference of opinion was “path-breaking”, Sibal said and added Prime Minister Narendra Modi for trusting foreigners more than Indians.“Why can’t he be transparent? Let us also go there. If the situation is normal we would say so,” he said on the foreign delegation which is visiting Jammu and Kashmir currently. The Supreme Court on Friday said that internet access is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution and asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review within a week all curbs in the union territory. The CPI-M said the Supreme Court’s judgement on the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir belie the false claims of normalcy that the Central government has been peddling to the country and the world.“The Supreme Court has made significant comments on the curbs on civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir which belie the false claims of normalcy that the Central Government has been peddling to the country and the world,” the party said in a statement.