India’s Supreme Court on Friday ordered review of internet shutdown in Indian-administered Kashmir in a rebuke to the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that imposed world’s longest internet shutdown in the Muslim-majority region.
Modi government stripped the disputed region’s autonomy in August and imposed a crippling communication and security lockdown, saying it was meant to prevent violence by separatists.
The top court said the indefinite suspension violated India’s telecoms rules, and ordered authorities in Kashmir to review internet suspension and other restrictions in a week’s time.
“Suspension of free movement, Internet and basic freedoms cannot be an arbitrary exercise of power,” the court said.
Lawyer Vrinda Grover said the court also directed the Indian government to make public all orders imposing a lockdown in Kashmir in August after the constitution’s Article 370 granting Kashmir special status was revoked.
The court held that the internet shutdown impacted the freedom of press which is part of freedom of speech and expression.
“Freedom of Internet access is a fundamental right,” Supreme Court justice NV Ramana said, delivering the ruling.