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Internet restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir: Balance between Fundamental Rights and National Security

Author: Shivam Agrawal, Student, Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, India

Abstract

Amidst COVID-19 lockdown, the Jammu and Kashmir government has restricted the internet speed to 2G for mobiles. While this restriction affects the fundamental rights of citizens, the government cites cross-border terrorist threats and apprehensions of misuse of high-speed data services by anti-national elements to justify its move. After hearing this matter, the Supreme Court has directed the setting up of a Special Committee headed by MHA Secretary to look into the circumstances and to determine whether the situation demands the continuation of restrictions in the region. However, the Supreme Court has called for the application of the principle of proportionality to ensure a balance between the fundamental rights of citizens and national security concerns. This paper attempts to highlight that in today’s modern era of innovation and technology, the right to access the internet is one of the most fundamental human rights. Any restriction on a person’s right to access the internet directly affects his/her fundamental rights. Therefore, the right to access the internet requires strong protection against unreasonable restrictions. However, reasonable restrictions are indispensable. While analysing the extent up to which a person’s right to access the internet can be restricted for the sake of national security, this paper argues that it is obligatory for the State to ensure that any such restriction/interference with the right is minimal.


Keywords: Jammu and Kashmir, Internet Restrictions, Right to Access Internet, National Security

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