History of the Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India
Maharaj Hari Singh in Kashmir inherited a unique conundrum: he was a Hindu but held dominion over a Muslim majority. In addition, he was the only princely state bordering both India and the newly born Pakistan, giving rise to the possibility of access to either nation. However, after an uprising against the ruler in Poonch and an invasion by a Pathan tribal militia from Pakistan, Maharaja Singh decided to turn to India for military assistance and executed an Instrument of Accession to India.
The foundation for Article 370 stems from the Instrument of Accession ( IOA ) signed by the then ruler of Jammu and Kashmir, Raja Hari Singh. The document was part of the formal process by which all princely states in the country declared their consent to be included in the Union of India. In this case, however, J & K negotiated some conditions as part of its entry into India. As per the IOA, the state gave the Union of India the power to legislate only three aspects: external affairs, communications, and defense.
Article 370 is included in the Indian Constitution, exempting the state of Jammu and Kashmir from the Constitution of India. This cements the terms spelled out in the IOA. Specifically, it allowed J & K to Have its own Constitution and – To have a say on legislation covering all issues except defense, foreign affairs, and communications — the three aspects that Raja Hari Singh consented to be subjected to the Indian Constitution.
Revoking Art 370
On August 5, 2019, the Indian Government issued the Constitution ( Application to Jammu and Kashmir ) Order, 2019, which stripped Jammu and Kashmir of the special status that it had enjoyed since 1954 and made it fully subservient to all provisions of the Constitution of India.
In the days leading up to this Constitutional Order, the Indian government began imposing restrictions on online communication and freedom of movement. On August 2 the Civil Secretariat, Home Government of Jammu and Kashmir, advised tourists and Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to leave the Jammu and Kashmir area in India.
Thereafter, schools and offices were ordered to remain closed until further notice. On August 4, 2019, mobile phone networks, internet services, and landline connectivity were all shut down in the region. The District Magistrates imposed additional restrictions on freedoms of movement and public assembly citing authority to do so under Section 144 of the Criminal Penal Code.
Writ Petition (C) No. 1164 of 2019 (Meaning Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India)
The petition of Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India, was brought by Ms. Anuradha Bhasin, the editor of the Kashmir Times Srinagar Edition. She argued that the internet is essential for the modem press and that by shutting it down, the authorities forced the print media to come to ” a grinding halt . ” because of this she had been unable to publish her newspaper since August 6, 2019. She also argued that the government failed to consider whether the internet shutdown was reasonable and proportionate to the aims it pursued.
She also argued that giving the State carte blanche to restrict fundamental rights in the name of national security and terrorism prevention would allow the State to impose broad restrictions on fundamental rights in varied situations .. Lastly, the restrictions were supposedly temporary in nature, but lasted over 100 days.
The petitioner Mr. Ghulam Nabi Azad ( a Member of Parliament belonging to INC ) argued that restrictions must be based on objective reasons and not merely on conjectures. Moreover, the official orders must not be kept secret by the State. The state of emergency used by the authorities to justify the restrictions could be declared only in light of an internal disturbance ” or ” external aggression ” under Article 356 of the Constitution, neither of which occurred.
Further, the petitioner argued that restrictions on movement must be specific in scope, targeting those who may the peace and cannot be applied broadly against the public in general. When imposing restrictions, the State must choose the least restrictive measures and balance the safety of people with the lawful exercise of their fundamental rights, which did not occur here
Respondent’s Arguments in Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India
The Attorney General in Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India, submitted that background of terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir has to be taken into account. He submitted that before passing the order, “the cognizance of problem in the state” has to be taken into consideration. Knowing the background if the government does not take any measure, there can be huge violence.
The Solicitor General in Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India, submitted that the first and foremost duty of the State is to protect the citizens. And knowing the history of Jammu and Kashmir, such measures are necessary to be taken. Also, individual movements were never restricted. The restrictions imposed are now gradually being relaxed upon seeing upon the circumstances of that area.
He submitted that the internet was never restricted in Ladakh regions. The Magistrate was having sufficient knowledge to pass the orders. The orders passed under Section 144 of CrPC can be preventive in nature in order to the safety of citizens. It is impossible to segregate the troublemakers from the other citizens countering the arguments that restrictions should be imposed on specific individuals.
Through newspapers, there is only one-way communication with the internet. there is two-way communication which makes it very easy to spread and therefore the same jurisprudence cannot be allowed. Different reasoning is to be applied while imposing the restrictions on both.
The dark web allows purchasing illegal weapons also and banning only certain sites on websites on the internet while continuing to access the remaining cannot be done. Proactive speeches and messages were transmitted and this is all in the public domain, thus it was necessary to ban them.
This is only an intro about the arguments of the Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India, Depth of the Internet Ban Case – Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union Of India, like Issues and Judgement like were the ban legal? How long was the ban? Etc you can see it in detail in my next article/blog. And I will also provide the link to that article/blog here, after publishing it.