Reviewing of internet curbs

What is written in the statute and the Constitution in particular, ought necessarily to be followed in letter and spirit and as a natural corollary, respected as well. Very often, the executive, in the interests of maintaining law and order, saving precious human lives and public property from impending threats of mass violence, is constrained to take certain decisions including temporarily putting on hold or regulating certain rights which may appear not pleasant on the face of it but when perused and analysed in right perspective, would be proved to be imperative and warranted strictly as per circumstances. Following scrapping of Article 370 and doing away with special status purported to have been of purely temporary nature granting to Jammu and Kashmir, the administration restricted the use of internet throughout Jammu and Kashmir and not merely in Kashmir valley as widely misunderstood. It is more than 160 days that internet services are suspended by the service providers in compliance with the instructions of the administration .
‘Excelsior’ has regularly been voicing concern about non restoration of the requisite internet facility citing how trade, industry, commerce and tourism sectors were facing hardships. In fact, shut downs and other non-administrative restrictions have otherwise caused considerable loss to traders in Kashmir valley and since Jammu trade too was interlinked with it, it too suffered severe jolts. Though broad band facilities were gradually provided in institutions like Hospitals, financial institutions, utility oriented Government departments etc, yet the pinch of its restoration in pre- August 5 manner was increasingly felt and a petition was filed with the Apex Court of India which has now asked the Government to “review within a week all orders imposing curbs in the newly created Union Territory following nullification of Article 370.” Invoking provisions of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India vide which any restriction must be in accordance with 19(2) of the Constitution, is what was held by the three -judge Bench headed by Justice N V Ramana.
Not only this, the Bench referred to the right of trade through the internet and opined, “Therefore, the freedom of trade and commerce through the medium of the internet is also constitutionally protected under Article 19 (1) (g) subject to the restrictions provided for under Article 19(6).” However, it is also to be seen that there are sufficient powers with the administration, again allowed under Article 19(2) of the Constitution on grounds of sovereignty and integrity of India, security of the area, state, UT, public order, friendly ties with foreign states, incitement to an offence and the like. While it goes wholly to the credit of the policies of and steps taken by the Central Government followed by the JK administration that the situation post constitutional and reorganizational changes of August 5/6 last year in respect of Jammu and Kashmir, not a shot was fired, as the need did not arise , by the security forces and not a single precious life was lost, imposition of certain temporary restrictions notwithstanding. The credit also goes to the general public of Jammu and Kashmir , particularly of the Valley, in having whole heartedly cooperated with the administration despite threats from militants.
We hope , under the present circumstances, when peace and violence free environment is fast returning , the Government must act upon the directive of the Supreme Court and restore the internet services which are desperately required by the trading community as in present era, doing business especially related to tourism related activities, is practically difficult. Though the Apex Court has not pointedly asked the Government to immediately restore the internet facilities but directing for a review within a week is expected to be taken in the positive spirit, notwithstanding “review” literally meaning to assess critically whether some changes were necessary or not and even whether to continue with it or not. We hope, looking to the situation in totality, the Government would take a favourable decision as it has enough reasons to believe that the facility would not be misused to imperil peace and order.
The directives of the Supreme Court , based on recognising the right to free speech and expression and right to carry on any trade under Articles 19.1.(a) and 19.1(g) of the Constitution of India and noting the importance of medium of internet which has been linked to constitutional protection, should be eye opener and conscience stirring to those who cast aspersions on the democratic set up and independence of our judiciary and full autonomy to the Apex Court in interpreting and protecting the constitutional rights of the Indian citizens. It should frustrate and stop for ever,the nefarious designs of those elements who are bent upon wreaking havoc with the constitutional and democratic set up of the country by resorting to acts prejudicial to social order and sovereignty and integrity of India. However, we are rather hopeful to report shortly , a positive and favourable review taken by the Government inrespect of the issue withina week.