Five months after the abrogation of Article 370, the Supreme Court said an indefinite internet shutdown is an abuse of power and directed the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review all the orders imposing curbs in the Union Territory within one week.
The apex court, while referring to the Internet clampdown, said that the Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.
The Supreme Court was hearing to a bunch of pleas including that of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad.
“Suspension of free movement, Internet and basic freedoms cannot be an arbitrary exercise of power,” said the Supreme Court, asserting that “a mere expression of dissent or disagreement against a government decision cannot be reason for Internet suspension,” NDTV reported.
“We welcome the judgement. For the first time, the SC has talked about how people of J&K feel. I would like to thank the SC for this historic decision. The people were waiting for the judgement, especially the people of J&K,” said the Congress leader.
The court ordered that all prohibitory orders imposed in the region, for the past five months, should be made public so that they can be challenged.
The internet shutdown in Kashmir, which has been on for more than 150 days, is longest of its kind in any democracy, according to digital rights group Access Now.
The government has argued that the blackout in Kashmir was required to maintain calm as separatists funded by Pakistan would try to foment trouble.
The top court criticised the government for the repetitive use of Section 144 of CrPC and sought an explanation for doing the same.
A bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai had reserved the judgement on November 27 last year.
Citing that the top court cannot dwell on the political decision taken, Justice Ramana during said that it is the court’s duty to balance security and liberty so that citizens are provided with their rights.
On November 21, the Centre had said that not a single life was lost nor a single bullet was fired.