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Underwhelming Judgment on Internet Shutdowns

The Supreme Court has made no attempt to check the irregular imposition of internet shutdowns in J&K.

The Supreme Court’s judgment in Anuradha Bhasin v Union of India (2020), on the lifting of the internet shutdown in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) following the abrogation of Article 370 makes for frustrating reading. The Court goes into long and elaborate discussions on the importance of free speech, the press, the internet, as a tool for expression, and the need for reasoned orders and procedure, among other things. Yet, it draws “conclusions” that are contradictory and have little or no bearing on what the judgment discusses.

To take one example, the Court discusses why it is impermissible for the government to refuse to provide copies of the orders suspending the internet in J&K. During the course of the hearing, the Solicitor General of India, arguing on behalf of the government, claimed that it was not possible to produce all the orders on the grounds of “privilege,” but was unable to show what law permitted such a claim. Eventually, “sample orders” were produced after the claim of privilege was dropped.

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Updated On : 20th Jan, 2020

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