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Blanket Ban on The Internet: A Tale of Jammu and Kashmir

Introduction
In this era of rapid digitization and growing reliance on the Internet in areas like as trade, business, security, communication, and education, among other things, the topic of "internet access" as a basic right has arisen before Indian courts.

The number of internet shutdowns in India has been steadily increasing. In 2019, India's ranking in the "Freedom on the Net" report dropped for the fourth year in a row[1]. Arbitrary Internet shutdowns are a result of exacerbated infrastructural political efforts. development A large portion of our people is denied access to the internet because of poverty.

Because of unequal internet access due to internet shutdowns or a lack of facilities to offer access, large segments of the Indian populace are left behind politically and socially. economically, This study also reveals that existing literature in India on the "Right to Internet" does not solely link this right to aspects of democracy and fundamental rights on the same level. This paper will fill in the blanks.

Issues To Be Addressed
The underlying research seeks to analyse and answer the following questions:
  1. Should right to internet be considered as a fundamental right?
  2. What is the intensity of violation of right to internet in India?
  3. What other rights are interlinked to the right to internet?
  4. How are democracy and internet sides of the same coin?
Objectives:
Analyzing the questions and hypothesis of this project would draw us up to the following

Objectives:
  1. Thoroughly understand the meaning of right to internet and other related keywords
  2. Suggest creative methods by which the government can regulate its rules and regulations to manage the right to internet
  3. Analyze the need for internet in the modern world
Background
The internet is become the most common means of disseminating information. "That the freedom of speech and expression includes freedom to propagate ideas, which is provided by freedom of circulation of a publication, as publishing is of little value without circulation," it was held in Romesh Thappar v. State of Madras [2]. This is further linked to the Indian Constitution's "right to information" as an integral aspect of the "right to freedom of speech and expression" under "article 19." It is widely assumed that a higher proclivity for communication strengthens democracy's machinery and results in a more empowered people�. [3]

Understanding the case of "Foundation for Media Professionals v. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir" [4], where the imposition of slow internet through 2G service in the valley of Jammu and Kashmir resulted in violations of "Right to Health," "Right to Education," and other rights, demonstrates the broad scope of the "Right to Internet." Though the Supreme Court of the country does not regard "right to internet" to be a basic right, the Kerala High Court did in Faheema Shirin R.K v. State of Kerala.

Any internet restriction must pass the "test of proportionality," and a blanket ban on the internet in any region is only allowed if it is in the "interest of India's sovereignty and integrity, the state's security, friendly relations with foreign states, or public order for preventing incitement or commission of an offence." Furthermore, a ban on the internet must be the "least restrictive approach." A succession of judicial declarations, statutes, constitutional application, and international treaties, such as the International Covenant on Cultural and Political Rights, led to the emergence of the right to Internet in India.

In addition, this report will discuss how internet bans are enforced in India under section 144 of the "Code of Criminal Procedure 1973" and Suspension Emergency or Rule 2(1) of the "Temporary of Telecom Services (Public Safety) Rules 2017." As a result, the focus of this article is on how the right to the internet is a derived basic right that can be construed under other fundamental rights, as well as how it is important in a democratic society.

Critical Analysis
The "United Nations" recommendation in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India raised the right to internet to a basic right in India. It's worth noting that it's drawn from Article 21 of the Constitution, much like "Privacy." Articles 21, 19, and 21A all contribute to the right to the internet. Furthermore, restricting internet access should only be considered if no other option is available. The right to the internet is defined as (1) the capacity to access it and (2) the availability of it.

Right To Internet:

A Fundamental Right
Right to internet as per the article 21
In the case of Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka [5], it was held that under Article 21A of the Constitution, education must not be confined to the higher strata of the society only and is a fundamental right, to which every citizen is entitled. This is relevant when it comes to the applicability of right to internet because in the case of Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala [6], the court held that internet is used by students to "Download e-books, take online courses offered by the government, browse news to acquire knowledge and propagate progressive ideas". This case was a landmark case as the Kerala High Court elevated right to internet as a fundamental right here.

The directive principles enshrined in Articles 38, 39, 41 and 45 that form a part of Article 19 and 21 cannot be fulfilled without ensuring access to modern technology and right to education[7]. Additionally, in the case of Anuj Garg v. Hotel Association of India [8], the court declared that the young generation must be equipped with modern technologies in order to facilitate progress.

Right to internet under article 19
A right bestows rights on an individual, and its violation might result in legal ramifications. "Digital India" is becoming a reality because to government initiatives such as Bharat Net, which promises to give broadband connectivity to even the most rural areas[9]. The internet has opened up new gateways for people to perform their trades and professions online.

As a result, as the case of Foundation for Media Professionals v. Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir demonstrated[10], residents' access to the internet is a requirement for achieving the "Freedom to perform any trade, profession, occupation, or business" granted by the Constitution's "Article 19(1)(g)." As a result, when the government implemented a "blanket ban" on the Internet in the Jammu and Kashmir valley, it violated residents' rights under Article 19(1). (g). [11]

A Democratic Right
The Analysis of Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India
The case of Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India [12] must be examined in order to determine when the internet can be shut down through legal means. In this case, petitioners challenged orders imposing a blanket ban on the Internet in the Valley of Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370, which was enacted in response to threats to India's security and integrity.

The petitioners said that their "Right to Education," "Freedom of Speech and Expression," "Freedom to Carry on Business," and "Right to Information" were all violated. The court ruled that online terrorism is a new type of terrorism that can be used to spread misinformation and plot acts that undermine public order and security. The "Right to Internet" was declared a "Fundamental Right" in this case, but it, like other fundamental rights, is not absolute.

The blanket ban appeared to be ineffective because not all regions in the contested area were "Dangerous zones" and so did not require such a ban. If a restriction on a Fundamental Right is made without a rational connection between the restriction and the goal of the restriction, the restriction becomes arbitrary and violates Article 14 of the Constitution.

In the case of Sabu Mathew George v. Union of India[13], the court upheld that, "The right to be informed and the right to know and the feeling of protection of expansive connectivity is guaranteed under the Constitution". The role of internet to inform citizens was highlighted in Maneka Gandhi v. Union of India [14], where Internet was accepted as a "limitless phenomenal to gather, transmit and receive information". Therefore, in order to ensure right to information of citizens which is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the citizens, "Right to internet" of the citizens has to be protected.

In the case of PUCL v. Union of India [15], it was determined that under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, every citizen has the right to freely express his or her thoughts, opinions, and ideas in writing. This right includes the right of an individual to criticise the government's policies on the Internet, which has been questioned multiple times over the years.

As a result, the Internet can be viewed as a virtual facilitator of discussion that allows people to exercise their "Right to Know" and make decisions in a participatory democracy. People have recently turned to the internet to highlight the flaws in their regime, and governments have responded by blocking their access to the internet in order to hide their catastrophic miscalculations and political gimmicks.

Conclusion
The Internet's multifaceted utility in modern times is obvious in Indian courts, and it has influenced judicial decisions. The understanding of fundamental rights must be widened to reflect changes as time passes and as "Techno-commercialization" and "Techno-capitalism" emerge. The "Right to the Internet" is not a new right, but rather an extension of existing fundamental rights. The digital communication network is today regarded as a symbol of discussion and communication, which is at the heart of democracy.

Public authorities, as defined in section 2(h) of the "Right to Information Act, 2005," have an obligation to make information available to the public. This information is currently released on websites that are subsequently spread on online media houses due to the presence of people online. These speeds up the flow of information and guarantees that everyone has access to it.

Bibliography
References:
  • Sabu Mathew George vs. Union of India https://wilmap.stanford.edu/entries/sabu-mathew-george-vs-union-india
  • Pucl V. Union Of India Revisited: Why India�s Surveillance Law Must Be Redesigned For The Digital Age Chaitanya Ramachandran http://docs.manupatra.in/newsline/articles/Upload/E90FA90F-0328-49F2-B03F-B9FBA473964F.pdf
  • Lehr, W., Clark, D., Bauer, S., Berger, A., & Richter, P. (2019). Whither the Public Internet? Journal of Information Policy, 9, 1�42. https://doi.org/10.5325/jinfopoli.9.2019.0001
  • WANG, X. (2016). A Human Right to Internet Access: A Gewirthian Approach. Frontiers of Philosophy in China, 11(4), 652�670. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44157038
  • Bhatia, G. (2014). State Surveillance And The Right To Privacy In India: A Constitutional Biography. National Law School of India Review, 26(2), 127�158. http://www.jstor.org/stable/44283638
  • Schroeder, R. (2018). The internet in theory. In Social Theory after the Internet: Media, Technology, and Globalization (pp. 1�27). UCL Press. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt20krxdr.4
Books:
  • Right to Information in India: Law, Policy and Governance Sudhir Naib
  • Right to Privacy and Internet by Nishant Singh
End-Notes:
  1. Sandhya Keelery, Internet Freedom in India Statistics & Facts Statista (Sept 10, 2020) ar https://www.statisto.com/topics/6071/internet-freedom in India
  2. Romesh Thappar v. State of Madrds, (1950), 1950 AIR 124
  3. Andrea Slane, Democracy, Social Space and internet 57 The Univ. of Toronto J 81, 82-104 (2007)
  4. Foundation for Media Professionals v Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, (2020) 5 SCC 746 (India).
  5. Mohini Jain v. State of Karnataka, (1992) 3 SCC 666
  6. Supra note at 2.
  7. Unni Krishnan v State of Andhra Pradesh, (1993) I SCR 694.
  8. Anuj Garg v. Hotel Association of India, (2008) 3 SCC I
  9. Prass Trust of India, Free Wifi to all villages connected to BharatNet, Live Mint (25th Dec, 2019,
  10. Supra nate ot 5.
  11. Supro note at 8.
  12. Supro note at 8
  13. Sabu Mathew Goorge v. Union of India, 2016 SCC Online 681
  14. Maneka Gandhi. Union of India (1978) 2 SCR 521
  15. PUCEV Union of Indio, AIR 1997 5C 568
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