Right to Internet

Supreme Court on 10/1/2020 ruled that access to internet is constitutionally protected under Article 19 of the Constitution which deals with Fundamental Right for protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc.  The judgement was in response to two petitions against Union of India.  One was by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times.  Another was by Ghulam Nabi Azad, Congress leader.  Justice Nutalapati Venkata Ramana is the author of the judgment.  Justices Ramayyagari Subhash Reddy and Bhushan Ramakrishna Gavai were other justices of the bench.

The judgment begins with an introduction which has a quotation from Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,… in short the period was so much like present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

Internet in Kashmir was discontinued on 4/8/2019.  It was expected to be restored after a few days.  That did not happen.  Months passed.

After that there was internet suspension in some parts of India due to anti-CAA protests.  This did not last beyond a few days.

In Western countries there was concern about internet suspension and other restrictions in Kashmir.  China was happy and sided with India saying this is what sovereign countries do.

Internet is a tool for speech and expression and for trade and commerce.  Internet shutdown affects communication and business.  Terrorists also use internet.  Banning internet to prevent terrorists from using it affects large number of innocent people.

Supreme Court has ruled that an order suspending internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017.  Suspension can be utilized for temporary duration only.