Suspension of the Internet: What the Rules say, what the SC underlined

3 min read

News:In Kashmir communication lockdown case,the Supreme Court has ruled that suspending Internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules,2017.

Facts:

About Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules,2017:

  • The rules have been framed by the government on the basis of the powers conferred by section 7 of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.
  • The rules are to be followed if the government intends to temporarily suspend telecom services in any part of the country during a public emergency or for public safety.
  • According to these rules, only the Home Secretary of the country and a secretary of a state‚Äôs home department can pass such an order.
  • These rules also state that any such order should be taken up by a review committee within five days.

What did the petitioner argued?

  • The petitioner argued that the internet shutdown in Kashmir was not compliant with the Rules as the (a)rules require the suspension to be temporary and (b)order claims a law-and-order danger as opposed to a public order danger specified in the Rules.

About the Supreme Court ruling:

  • The court said that the rules require the order to be in accordance with The Telegraph Act as the order must be during a public emergency or in the interest of public safety.
  • The court also said that suspending Internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the rules.It could be done for temporary duration only and the same is subject to judicial review.
  • Hence,the court ordered the government to review its order ruling that the freedom of speech and trade on the Internet is a fundamental right.