Great step towards democracy and transparency: Kapil Sibal on SC order over reviewing of restrictive orders in J-K

New Delhi [India], Jan 10 (ANI): Congress leader Kapil Sibal on Friday lauded Supreme Court's decision to direct the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review the restrictive orders imposed in the Union Territory within a week and said that it's a historic decision and termed it as a great step in a march towards democracy and transparency.

"I think it's a historic decision and this will serve the country as it's a great step in a march towards democracy and transparency. The court has taken cognizance of the fact that the power of the government is not unlimited in matters of this nature, especially in relation to freedom of expression. The court has said that internet freedom is a part of freedom of expression and therefore you can't curb it in the manner in which it was done and that there is to be a constant review of any restrictions that are imposed on the internet," Sibal told ANI.

The top court while hearing the petitions challenging restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir stated that the right to access the internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.

Sibal further added that the trade in the state has been badly affected due to ban of the internet because it is the major mode of business and trade activities and if it is banned in this fashion, all trade activities will be stopped. They (Court) have said that all these bans can take place in 'very very extraordinary' circumstances and only when there is no other option left. Under the telecom rules, there is no procedure for review, therefore review has to take place every week.

"They said that as far as people going to the hospitals are concerned and the internet is used for that purpose, you cannot stop people. On Section 144 again, I think it's a historic judgment, they have clarified the law and they have said that Section 144 should be imposed on the basis of facts which are to the knowledge. Facts must be set out in the order itself so that the order can go up for judicial review. In this particular case, no facts were demonstrated in any of the orders under Section 144," said Sibal.

"The Supreme Court has said that all the decisions made by the government with respect to the internet under the telecom rules, with respect to orders under Section 144...all orders that they have made that have imposed bans must be now put up in the public domain within one week so that people get a chance to actually challenge those orders," he added.

Sibal further asserted that the judgment has not been fully uploaded yet and only the snippets of the judgment pursuing to what the court pronounced have come out so far.

"Now all the facts will be in the public domain and that's a great victory. I think in future the government will have to follow the judgment of the Supreme Court as and when they want to do this in other parts of the country. Internet ban has been used in this country more than perhaps any other nation of the world. Even in nations that are reflected by the terrorist activities, the ban of the internet has not been so frequently used there as it has been used in India. That's a very sad state of affairs," said Sibal.

The top court said that Kashmir has seen a lot of violence and that it will try to maintain a balance between human rights and freedoms with the issue of security.

It also directed the Jammu and Kashmir administration to review the restrictive orders imposed in the region within a week. "The citizens should be provided highest security and liberty,' the apex court said.

Speaking about the recent violence occurred in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on January 5, Sibal stated that the Vice-Chancellor of the university must be 'dismissed'.

"As far as Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI) is concerned and JNU is concerned, we know the situation. CWC is going to meet tomorrow and I hope they take a very strong position on it but this Vice-Chancellor must go. Those masked people belonged to ABVP and if in that situation the VC was sitting in his office and doing nothing then the first thing that must be done is for the VC to be dismissed," said Sibal. (ANI)