Post abrogation of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir, the Central Government had imposed many restrictions on its people. But even after five months of imposing curfew, internet service could not be restored in the state. However, the Central Government has claimed that Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 has been removed from many places and this ban continues in only a few places. The bench consisting of Justice NV Ramana, Justice Subhash Reddy and Justice BR Gavai, has heard the petitions against these restrictions today (January 10, 2020). On August 5, 2019, the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abolished and it was divided into two centrally ruled states. Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh have been shut off in the valley since then and only broadband services are connected. The government has also recently launched landline phones and post-paid mobile services.
The Supreme Court has laid down several guidelines regarding the Government action in J&K:
- The government should review all restrictions issued in Jammu and Kashmir within 7 days of passing of the order.
- Service of the Internet should be restored in government and local bodies where internet misuse is less. Business is completely dependent on the Internet.
- Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir should be reviewed with immediate effect. Internet is also a means of freedom of speech and expression. The right to internet is included in the right to free speech under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution.
- Internet cannot be banned indefinitely. Restrictions on the Internet should be reviewed periodically.
- The suspension of Internet and basic freedom cannot be an arbitrary exercise of power.
- The magistrate should use discretion while ordering restrictions under Section 144 of CrPC, looking at the ratio of danger to the freedom and safety of citizens. Repeating the issuance of orders in the same manner repeatedly is a violation. Prohibitory orders cannot be imposed under Section 144 of CrPC for dissent.
- The Government of Jammu and Kashmir should make the decision of imposing Section 144 public and if affected, the person can challenge it.