SC reminded Modi that nation bows to Constitution: Congress
New Delhi: The Congress on Friday hailed the Supreme Court order to Jammu and Kashmir administration to view all its restrictive orders within a week as a historic decision as a big jolt to the Narendra Modi-led BJP government at Centre for curbing internet services since August 4 last year.
The opposition party said the Prime Minister has been reminded that nation bows before Constitution, and not him.
“Supreme Court delivers first big jolt of 2020 to illegal activities of the Modi government by stating importance of internet as a fundamental right. Double shock for Modi-Shah that dissent cannot be oppressed by imposing section 144. Modiji reminded that nation bows before Constitution and not him,” Congress spokesperson and national media in-charge Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted.
Former Finance Minister and senior party leader P. Chidambaram taking a pot shot at the government said, “Supreme Court rules that tactics like indefinite internet shutdowns and indiscriminate use of Section 144 to silence dissent are unacceptable in a democracy. We hope this serves as a reminder to the tyrant duo that law & constitution is above their divisive policies.”
Senior party leader and noted lawyer, Jairam Ramesh while addressing a press conference said, “There is doubt in public’s mind about the situation in Kashmir. Section 144 was in force throughout Kashmir, internet shutdown, communication was down. So, we had filed a petition in the Supreme Court to lift section 144 and decide criteria for implementing it.”
He said, historic verdict has been pronounced by a three-Judge Supreme Court bench.
“The conclusions of the verdict are that the respondent state or competent authorities are directed to publish all orders in force and any future orders under Section 144, Cr.P.C. and for suspension of telecom services, including internet, to enable affected persons to challenge it before the High Court or appropriate forum.
“We declare that freedom of speech and expression and the freedom to practice any profession or carry on any trade, business or occupation over the medium of internet enjoys constitutional protection under Article 19(1)(a) and Article 19(1)(g),” Ramesh said.
He said that the “restriction” 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.
He further said that the Court also said that an order suspending internet services indefinitely is impermissible under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Service) Rules, 2017.
“Suspension can be utilised for temporary duration only and any order suspending internet issued under the Suspension Rules, must adhere to the principle of proportionality and must not extend beyond necessary duration,” he noted.
The Congress leaders remarks soon after the Supreme Court on Friday directed the administration of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) to view all its restrictive orders within a week and publish them publicly for them to raised before a court of law.
The court orders come as blow to the Centre that has been garnering support for its move in the Kashmir Valley.
The court also called the restriction on the internet as against the Constitution.
A bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana said the restrictions imposed on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir by the administration of the newly formed Union Territory will have to be reviewed in seven days.
The Supreme Court in its verdict observed that the use of internet enjoys constitutional protection as tool, which is under the ambit of freedom of speech and expression and also enables people to carry on with their respective profession.
On Section 144 of the Cr.P.C., the apex court said it cannot be used to curb liberty, and this section can be used only where there is likelihood of incitement of violence and danger to public safety.