Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India: The Kashmir Internet Case
In the judgment dated 10th January, 2020, Hon’ble Mr. Justice N.V. Ramana, Hon’ble Mr. Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Hon’ble Mr. Justice B. R. Gavai sat in the bench, to decide upon the issue that had been in the news since about six months. On August 5, 2019, Jammu and Kashmir and stripped it from its special status that it enjoyed because of Article 370. On the same day, due to prevailing circumstances internet and movement restrictions were imposed in the region in the name of protecting public order. However, it became a huge question on the legality of internet shutdown that was challenged under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The Court did not lift the internet restrictions and instead, the Court laid down that:
1. Freedom of expression and the freedom to practice any profession online was protected by Indian Constitution.
2. Although the Government could suspend the Internet, the government had to prove necessity and impose a temporal limit, which it failed to do in this case. Thus, the government had to review its suspension orders and lift those that were not necessary or did not have a temporal limit.
The judgment is a refreshing reiteration by the Supreme Court for the need to restore due process and accountability in India. It is a strong reminder to the government and all other authorities that the constitutionalism mandates the reasonableness behind each of their actions.
But the judgment yields no decision on the most important issue before the Court i.e. whether various components of the communications lockdown were invalid and should be set aside. The Court may have recognized the rights at stake, but failed to enforce them and award a remedy. No immediate relief was provided.
Written by Marina Nasreen, a fourth year law student at University of Kashmir.