February 18, 2024
SC Directs Public Release of Jk Internet Review Orders
Jammu Kashmir Courts & Law

SC Directs Public Release of Jk Internet Review Orders

SC Directs Public Release of Jk Internet Review Orders.image/KL

SC Directs Public Release of Jk Internet Review Orders

The Supreme Court emphasized on Tuesday that review orders considering pleas for the restoration of internet services in Jammu and Kashmir should not be hidden away and instructed the administration to make them public.

According to media reports, Justices B R Gavai and Sanjay Karol, comprising the bench, granted Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj, representing the Jammu and Kashmir administration, a two-week period to seek instructions and inform the court on the next hearing date. The bench was addressing an application filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals, which sought the publication of review orders passed by a special committee, headed by the Union Home Secretary, concerning internet restrictions in the region.

Expressing their perspective, the bench stated, “Review orders are not meant to be kept in the cupboard,” as Nataraj conveyed the petitioner’s request for the publication of the committee’s deliberations. The bench further declared, “We are of the prima facie view that it may not be necessary to publish the deliberations (of the committee), but the review orders passed are required to be published. Nataraj seeks two weeks to take instructions in this regard. List after two weeks.”

Advocate Shadan Farasat, representing the Foundation for Media Professionals, argued that as per the 2020 verdict in the Anuradha Bhasin versus Union of India and the Telegraph Act, review orders, which are passed under the Act, should be published. Nataraj responded by stating that these issues arose during the internet restrictions following the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, 2019.

The bench emphasized, “Forget about the deliberations, you only publish review orders. They only want the publication of the review orders.” Nataraj assured the court that previous directives had been followed, and a contempt petition had been dismissed. He sought time for further instructions, which the bench granted.

The bench noted Nataraj’s submission that the verdicts and orders indicated that the deliberations of the special committee need not be published. The background revealed that on May 11, 2020, the Supreme Court established a “special committee” to assess requests for the reinstatement of 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, balancing national security and human rights. The court had, in its January 10, 2020, Anuradha Bhasin versus Union of India verdict, affirmed the protection of freedom of speech and business activities on the internet under the Constitution, urging an immediate review of curb orders by the Jammu and Kashmir administration.

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