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Internet access a fundamental right under Article 19 rules Supreme Court

In a significant judgment Supreme Court(SC) noted that the SC in a catena of judgments has recognized free speech as a fundamental right, and, as technology has evolved, has recognized the freedom of speech and expression over different media of expression.

The Supreme Court has declared access to internet a fundamental right. The ruling came on hearing of a plea in connection with Internet blockade in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 — in the view of revoking of Article 370 in the Union Territory.

  • Freedom of speech and expression and also freedom of trade and commerce through the medium of internet are constitutionally protected rights under Art 19 (a) and Articles 19(1)(g), respectively.
  • The restriction upon such fundamental rights should be in consonance with the mandate under Article 19 (2) and (6) of the Constitution, inclusive of the test of proportionality.
  • Indefinite suspension of internet not permissible.                                                                                                                    The Court passed the following directions in relation to internet shutdown :

                                            An order suspending internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Ser Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017. Suspension can be utilized for temporary duration only. Any order suspending internet issued under the Suspe the Suspension Rules, must adhere to the principle of proportionality and must not extend beyond necessary duration. Any order suspending internet and the Suspension Rules is subject to judicial review.

LEARNING WITH TIMES

Article 19 in The Constitution Of India 

  1. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc

(1) All citizens shall have the right

(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(b) to assemble peaceably and without arms;

(c) to form associations or unions;

(d) to move freely throughout the territory of India;

(e) to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and

(f) omitted

(g) to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

(2)  Imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence

                               Although Article 19 does not express provision for freedom of press but the fundamental right of the freedom of press implicit in the right the freedom of speech and expression.

 

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