Section 144 not a tool to oppress difference of opinion: SC verdict on J&K in 15 points

New Delhi, Jan 10: In an important order the Supreme Court held that the Internet is a fundamental right and the services are intrinsic to right to free speech.

The observation was made while delivering the verdict on a batch of petitions on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370.

Here are the key top observations by the court:

  • Jammu and Kashmir administration to review all restrictive orders within a week.
  • All orders are to be put in public domain which can then be challenged in a court of law.
  • All orders of restriction under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure should be published so as to enable affected persons to challenge it.
  • Temporary suspension of internet, basic freedom of citizens should not be arbitrary. It should be open to judicial review.
  • The internet suspension should be reviewed.
  • Freedom of internet is a fundamental right under Article 19(1), which deals with free speech.
  • Trade and commerce through internet is protected under Article 19(1) (g), which deals with fundamental right to conduct trade and commerce.
  • Internet services are intrinsic to right to free speech and cannot be suspended without providing reason and duration thereof.
  • Certain trade and commerce are completely dependant on the Internet. Such trade and freedom to practise then is constitutionality protected as fundamental right under Article 19(1)(g).

SC on J&K: All restrictive orders must be made public, review all restrictions within a week

  • Mere expression of dissent or disagreement against a government decision cannot be a reason for Internet suspension
  • Section 144, cannot be used as a tool to oppress difference of opinion.
  • Magistrates while passing restrictive orders under Section 144 should apply their minds and have a sense of proportionality between danger to security and liberty of citizens.
  • Repetitive orders without giving reasons and not based on material facts will be violative.
  • Suspension of free movement, the Internet and basic freedom cannot be an arbitrary exercise of power.
  • Expressions through the internet and social media have contemporary relevance.

Source: One India

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