'Internet shutdowns can't be ordered to suppress speech': SC directs Jammu and Kashmir govt to review restrictive orders within seven days

  • The bench held that internet shutdowns cannot be ordered to suppress speech unless there is incitement to violence or similar reasons.

  • The Supreme Court ordered the suspension of internet should be reviewed forthwith and that such suspension can be only 'for a limited time period'.

  • A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana also asked the administration to restore internet services in institutions providing essential services like hospitals and educational places.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review all orders imposing restrictions in the Union Territory within a week while, holding that access to internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.

 Internet shutdowns cant be ordered to suppress speech: SC directs Jammu and Kashmir govt to review restrictive orders within seven days

File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI

The bench held that internet shutdowns cannot be ordered to suppress speech unless there is incitement to violence or similar reasons. "Reasonableness of Section 144 orders must be assessed based on territorial reach, nature of restrictions and  time period."

The Supreme Court ordered the suspension of internet should be reviewed forthwith and that such suspension can be only "for a limited time period". It is also subject to judicial review, Justice Ramana said while reading the judgment.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana also asked the administration to restore internet services in institutions providing essential services like hospitals and educational places.

The apex court has ordered that Centre publish all orders of the government under Section 144 imposing restrictions, including curbing of internet. The bench also said that magistrates, while passing prohibitory orders, should apply mind and follow doctrine of proportionality.

The verdict came on a batch of pleas which challenged curbs imposed in Jammu and Kashmir after the Centre's abrogation of provisions of Article 370 on 5 August, 2019.

Follow LIVE Updates on SC Verdict on Kashmir here 

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Updated Date: Jan 10, 2020 13:17:23 IST