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Opposition terms SC order historic, asks Centre to lift all restrictions in Kashmir

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 10, 2020 Published on January 10, 2020

File photo   -  PTI

There is much doubt in the public’s mind about the situation in Kashmir: Kapil Sibal

The Congress and the Left parties on Friday welcomed the Supreme Court’s verdict that access to the internet is a fundamental right. They urged the Centre to remove all the restrictions imposed on the people of Kashmir.

Congress leader Kapil Sibal said there is much doubt in the public’s mind about the situation in Kashmir. “Section 144 was in force throughout Kashmir, there was an internet shutdown, and communication was down. So, we had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to lift Section 144,’ he said, terming the Supreme Court verdict historic.

He further said the the apex court has directed the competent authorities to publish all the orders in force, and any future orders under Section 144, the CrPC and those on the suspension of telecom services, to enable the affected persons to challenge it before the high court or any other appropriate forum.

“The restrictions upon such fundamental rights should be in consonance with the mandate under Article 19 (2) and (6) of the Constitution, inclusive of the test of proportionality,” Sibal said, quoting the verdict. “Orders not in accordance with the law laid down above must be revoked. Further, in future, if there is a necessity to pass fresh orders, the law laid down herein must be followed.” The court observed that Section 144 and CrPC cannot be used to suppress legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights, he added.

Civil liberties

Hailing the verdict, the CPI(M) said the Supreme Court has made significant comments on the curbs on civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir, which bely the false claims of normalcy that the Centre has been peddling. “The Centre, on the eve of the judgment, tried to reinforce the official claims by taking a group of foreign envoys on a farcical restricted tour to J&K, where they were allowed to see and hear only what the government wanted them to, which is why none of them could meet the three former Chief Ministers still in jail,” the party’s Politburo said in a statement. “When, five months after the lockdown, political leaders, MPs and parties representing the people of this country are virtually banned from visiting Kashmir, such a tour is insulting to India’s Parliament.”

The statement added that the Supreme Court has criticised the indefinite ban on internet services, holding that the use of internet is a constitutional right and is part of freedom of speech and expression. “It has also held that the repeated use of Section 144 could not be used as a tool to oppress difference of opinion,” it said.

Published on January 10, 2020
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