The case of Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India and Others is a significant judgement of the Supreme Court of India, delivered in 2020, addressing the issue of internet shutdowns in Jammu and Kashmir.
- The petition was filed by Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of the Kashmir Times, challenging the restrictions imposed on the Internet and other forms of communications in Jammu and Kashmir in August 2019. These restrictions were put in place following the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- The petitioners argued that the restrictions on internet and telecommunication services violated the fundamental rights of the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, including the right to freedom of speech and expression and the right to carry on any trade or business under Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
The key legal issues included:
- Whether the restrictions on Internet services and other forms of communications were violative of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India.
- The balance between national security concerns and the fundamental rights of citizens.
Supreme Court Judgment:
- The Supreme Court held that freedom of speech and expression through the Internet is an integral part of Article 19(1)(a) and consequently, any restriction on it must be in accordance with Article 19(2), which pertains to reasonable restrictions on free speech.
- The Court declared that the right to carry on trade or business through the Internet is also constitutionally protected under Article 19(1)(g), subject to reasonable restrictions.
- The Court directed the authorities to review all orders suspending internet services forthwith.
- The Court noted that indefinite suspension of internet services is impermissible and that such suspension can only be for a limited duration.
- The Court also emphasised the need for proportionality in imposing such restrictions, stating that they must be necessary and there should not be any less restrictive alternative.
Significance of the Judgment:
1. Recognition of Internet as a Fundamental Right: This judgement was significant for recognizing the Internet as a medium for freedom of speech and expression, and for conducting business.
2. Balancing Rights with National Security: It underscored the need to balance national security concerns with the fundamental rights of citizens.
3. Guidelines for Internet Shutdowns: The judgement laid down specific guidelines for imposing internet shutdowns, emphasising their temporariness, necessity, and proportionality.
4. Transparency and Accountability: The ruling called for more transparency and accountability in government decisions to impose internet shutdowns.
Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India marked a critical point in the jurisprudence relating to internet freedom in India. It brought clarity to the legal principles governing internet shutdowns and emphasised the importance of fundamental rights even during times of national security concerns.
For more detailed information on this case, you can refer to sources such as [Indian Kanoon](https://indiankanoon.org/doc/168671806/) or academic articles that analyse its legal and societal implications.