Experts hail SC Decision on Online access in Jammu and Kashmir

The Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday asked police to examine the suspension of services in Kashmir in seven days was viewed by specialists as a little step in cutting the government’s indiscriminate shutting down of net access.

The court had held that entire suspension of providers should be contemplated only if”necessary” and”unavoidable”. It further stated the liberty of expression and speech and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or job over the medium of net enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g), hence rendering it a basic right.

NS Nappinai, Supreme Court advocate and cyber law expert, said India has gained international notoriety as an enforcer of online shutdowns. “We are happy that the judgment recognises the significance of communicating channels.

There are just very particular rigorous procedures that could encircle these shutdowns,” she explained.

“However, we’ve seen uncontrolled and very casual usage of those procedures. These shutdowns which India has observed, as a fashion, have to prevent and this SC ruling becomes the first step in defining the trend,” Nappinai explained.

Apar Gupta, executive manager at Internet Freedom Foundation, said the judgment lays down the fundamental principles and safeguards to be followed closely by the authorities in these scenarios.

“It also says shutdowns can’t be manufactured indefinitely and can’t be applied indiscriminately. . .Much currently depends upon

Additional government actions, and much falls upon future activities of this authorities to follow the judgment, in addition to the court’s own authorities,” Gupta added.

The Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC), a nonprofit legal services firm that maintains an online shutdown tracker for India, estimates the amount of shutdowns involving 2012 to currently at 381. Of them, 106 were listed in 2019, such as the one in Kashmir, that’s the longest listed shutdown any place on the planet.

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