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'Can Reasonable Restrictions Extinguish The Right Itself?', Adv Vrinda Grover On Kashmir Lockdown

Nilashish Chaudhary
5 Nov 2019 8:17 AM GMT
Can Reasonable Restrictions Extinguish The Right Itself?, Adv Vrinda Grover On Kashmir Lockdown
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard Advocate Vrinda Grover in the petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin , Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, against the internet shut down and media curbs imposed in Jammu and Kashmir.

Grover highlighted that even after 90 days, there is no indication of lifting of the lockdown of Kashmir.

"Kashmir times has only been able to publish a minute version since Oct 11. Data services continue to be unavailable. No mobile, internet services, SMS etc available today. It has been 90 days since shutdown. It has crippled the ability of media to do its job", Grover said.

The reasonable restrictions on fundamental rights cannot be of such disproportionate nature that they cannot extinguish the right itself, Grover asserted.

What's the proximate nexus between accessing the internet and terrorist activities?, she asked.

The Government states that the internet shut down is imposed under Telecom Services Suspension Rules 2017.  As per these Rules restrictions can only be imposed for temporary periods. They cannot be kept on for long periods of time. Orders by officials need to be reviewed by a committee to verify their legality. These Rules are framed under the Indian Telegraph Act 1885. There are strict provisions in place, especially since this deprives citizens of their fundamental rights, Grover advanced.

She asserted that media freedom can be curbed only through a specific, reasoned order. 

The bench comprising Justices Ramana, Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai will continue hearing the matter tomorrow.

On October 16 -the Solicitor General had claimed privilege over the orders imposing restrictions in the region, when the bench sought the production of the same. At the same time, he stated that those orders could be produced before the court.

"if for any reason, learned Solicitor General does not want to give a copy of those orders to the petitioners, we request him to file an affidavit indicating the reasons for claiming such privilege". the bench had ordered then.

On September 16, a bench headed by CJI Gogoi had urged the Centre to make every effort to restore normalcy in J&K, keeping national security interest in mind.

Bhasin's petition was filed on August 10, five days after the curfew measures were imposed in the region following the abrogation of the special status of J&K.

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