Internet Block Curtails Freedom Of Press In J&K: SC

The Supreme Court while hearing petitions challenging restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday stated that the freedom of the press is impacted by the shutdown of communication and internet in the region.

Speaking to the media persons after the pronouncement of the verdict, senior lawyer Vrinda Grover said, “As far as internet shutdown is concerned, the court held that freedom of the internet is part of freedom of speech and expression and therefore is given protection under Article 19 (1) of the Constitution. It also said the freedom of the press is impacted by the shutdown of communication and the internet.”

Another lawyer added that the top court held that “indefinite internet ban is not permissible under the Constitution and is an abuse of power”.

The top court today directed the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review the restrictive orders imposed in the region within a week.

Grover added, “The court said that restrictive orders were not placed before it which is not acceptable in law. The administration has to place the orders before the review committee within seven days.”

The lawyer said that the orders will be reviewed “based on the doctrine of proportionality and least restrictive measures”.

The top court today made observations and issued directions while pronouncing the verdict on a number of petitions challenging the restrictions and internet blockade imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year.

The Supreme Court heard the petitions filed by various petitioners including Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin challenging restrictions imposed on communication, media and telephone services in Jammu and Kashmir pursuant to revocation of Article 370.

The petitions were filed after the central government scrapped Article 370 in August and bifurcated Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Following this, phone lines and the internet were blocked in the region.

The government had, however, contended that it has progressively eased restrictions. (ANI)

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