The legality of the internet shutdown on what basis was posited in the Court and the restriction on the public movements was challenged under Article 32 of the Constitution. The inception of the issue is seen from 5th August 2019. It begins with the issuing of Constitutional Order 272 by the President, modifying Article 370, limiting its interpretation in its application in Jammu and Kashmir. (Now, they are U.T.’s)

The Court ruled that an internet service restriction would be illegal and an order for the internet shutdown must satisfy the tests of necessity and proportionality.


The issue began right from 5th august of 2019 when Constitutional Order 272 was issued by the President, applying all provisions of India’s Constitution to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, and modifying Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, the Interpretation of it in its application to the State of Jammu and Kashmir.

Subsequently, the outsiders’ trip was cut short. Educational institutions and offices were also shut down. Section 144 of Cr.P.C. was imposed on 4th august of 2019, leading to the disconnection of the internet services, mobile connectivity. The Writ Petition (C) No. 1031 of 2019 was filed by Ms. Anuradha Bhasin. She made her point by saying that print media could end without the Internet as newspapers have not been published since 6th August 2019.

It is the duty to publish order and it is a component of natural justice. The State cannot claim the right to privilege before the Court for not producing judgments. She said that the Court should follow jurisprudence and natural justice and bring back the tranquility in J&K.[1]

The respondent- Mr. K.K. Venugopal- submitted that the State of Jammu and Kashmir having militancy needs to be taken into account. Mr. K.K. Venugopal produced the contention for passing such an order after taking cognizance of the State’s circumstance. The State’s very reason was to take preventive measures looking at the internal and external militancy’s history, and it might repeat itself, causing a state of chaos. He posited his view that it might lead to conditions to that of the year 2016 when a terrorist was killed, and the officials took similar actions. Tushar Mehta, acting as a defendant for the State, opined that the order intended to protect the citizens and maintain the peace in the State was necessary to take up steps.[2]

Issues Raised

Issue 1:

Whether the freedom of speech and expression over the Internet is a part of our Constitution’s fundamental rights?

Issue 2:

Whether the imposition of restrictions falling under the ambit of Section 144 of Cr.P.C. is valid? And can Government can take the defense of Section 144 of the Cr.P.C. to exempt themselves from the liability to issue such orders?

Legal Provisions

Constitution of India: Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g)

Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973: Section 144

Information Technology (Procedures and Safeguards for Blocking for Access of Information by Public) Rules, 2009

Information Technology Act, 2000

The Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.

The Court adjudicated that the “right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a), and the right to carry on any trade or business under 19(1)(g), using the medium of internet is constitutionally protected”. This proclamation would entail that any curtailment of internet access must be reasonable and within the boundaries laid down by Article 19(2) and 19(6) of the Constitution.

The Court observed that the State’s powers don’t bring the ability to suppress or surrender democratic and fundamental rights. Section 144 of the Cr.P.C. was included as to use in case of emergencies to safeguard the public from danger in a veil of the greater good. The Court ordered the State to publish the orders to establish legitimacy. The non-compliance would lead to the State’s stance of delegitimization in the veil of abuse of power.[3]


The Court held that State has no reason to hide the facts as to explanations of publishing the order and exempting themselves by using Section 144 of the Cr. P.C The Apex court noticed that the Internet had become one of the fundamental needs of a human being. It was observed in the case of Faheema Shirin.R.K.vs The State of Kerala that the internet is a fundamental right of a human being under the right to privacy Article 21 of the Constitution.

Furthermore, the Court opined that the prohibition for access to the Internet would only be valid in certain circumstances or emergencies for the greater good. Only otherwise, it will cease to exist. Although the Supreme Court did not remove the restrictions on the Internet and the citizens’ movement, the judgment helped deliver a new interpretation of freedom of speech and expression by including the right to access the Internet. With the evolution of time, the Internet has become a source for transferring essential information from one place to another, from one human being to another. It has become an integral part of the life of people. In a situation such as today’s, such precarious circumstances would be a deterrent in citizens’ lives, especially the youth who is acquiring education with the Internet’s help. In a situation such as this, the Internet plays a crucial role, which now has become a right in interpreting the Right of Freedom and expression under Part III of the Indian Constitution. The Court expressed its views by defining that the Internet is the basic need and ceases to break the natural justice train. The Court ruled that the Government’s order imposed a complete restriction on citizens’ movement and internet access. This would be against the rights provided to the country’s citizens, and the public has every right to get the published order, and its decree is itself can be subject to judicial review.


1.     Faheema Shirin v. State of Kerala [2019] W.PW.P. .No.19716 of 2019-L

Bhavya Arora, ‘Anuradha Bhasin v/s Union of India’ (legalservicesindia) accessed 27 December, 2020

 [1] Bhavya Arora, ‘Anuradha Bhasin v/s Union of India’ (legalservicesindia) accessed 27 December, 2020

[2] Bhavya Arora, ‘Anuradha Bhasin v/s Union of India’ (legalservicesindia) accessed 27 December, 2020

[3] Bhavya Arora, ‘Anuradha Bhasin v/s Union of India’ (legalservicesindia) accessed 27 December, 2020

Author : Vibhu Gautam

Maharashtra National Law University, Mumbai

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