NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court order on Internet ban in Jammu and Kashmir provided fresh ammunition to opposition leaders for renewed offensive against the government as they hailed the judgement as a “rebuff to the unconstitutional and arrogant” regime and which “belies false claims of normalcy” in the newly-carved out union territory.
A five-judge bench of the apex court declared Internet as a fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression and asked the administration of the UT to review within a week all orders imposing curbs in Jammu and Kashmir, including the 160-day-old net ban.
Terming the order as a “big-jolt” to the central government, Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala said truth cannot be hidden any longer in “sealed envelops” and added that the apex court expressed displeasure over the Modi government’s refusal to show its orders on Internet ban which was an “extraordinary measure”.
In a tweet, he said the Supreme Court had delivered “first big jolt of 2020 to illegal activities of Modi Govt 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!”
Party colleague and former home minister P Chidambaram termed the apex order as a rebuff to the “unconstitutional and arrogant” stance of the central government and asked former state Governor Satpal Malik to own responsibility and resign as Goa Governor.
“SC order is a rebuff to the unconstitutional and arrogant stance of the central government and the JK administration on the restrictions imposed in JK,” he said.
“The former Governor of JK, Mr Satpal Malik, should own responsibility and resign from his present post of Governor, Goa,” Chidambaram said in a series of tweets.
In JK, main opposition National Conference welcomed the order and expressed hope that restoration of mobile Internet services will help ease the situation.
“The observations of the apex court about snapping of Internet services indefinitely are significant and the government must take a call to review and restore the connectivity immediately,” NC provincial president Devender Singh Rana said here.
PDP, an ally of the BJP till 2018, welcomed the order and said that the apex court has “finally” woken up “to the injustices cast upon the people of JK.
“Finally #SupremeCourt has woken up to the injustices cast upon the people of J&K, calling such govt. lodged curbs an ‘abuse’ of power reinstates our faith in the judiciary,” the party said on its official Twitter handle.
Former state finance minister Altaf Bukhari, who has initiated a political outreach in the union territory, also welcomed the verdict and said “the apex court’s verdict has given a sigh of relief to the people of Jammu and Kashmir who have tremendously suffered because of communication blockade in last over five months.”
He said the “verdict vis-a-vis restoration of fundamental rights of citizens of Jammu and Kashmir assumes much significance given the scale of loss suffered by the people especially in education, health and business sectors due to the continuous internet shutdown”.
Echoing similar views, the CPI (M) said the judgement belied the false claims of normalcy that the central government has been peddling to the country and the world.
“The Supreme Court has made significant comments on the curbs on civil liberties in Jammu and Kashmir which belie the false claims of normalcy that the Central Government has been peddling to the country and the world,” it said.
It further said that the government tried to reinforce the official claims of normalcy by taking a group of foreign envoys on a farcical restricted tour to J-K where they were “allowed to see and hear only what the government wanted them to, which is why none of them could meet the three former chief ministers still in jail.”
“When five months after the lockdown, political leaders, MPs and parties representing the people of this country are virtually banned from visiting Kashmir, such a tour is insulting to India’s parliament,” the Left party said.
Leader of the opposition in Rajya Sabha and senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad hailed the order saying the government had tried to mislead the people and this time the apex court did not come under any pressure.
“We welcome this judgement. This is the first time the SC has talked about how people of JK feel. I would like to thank the SC for a very historic decision and the people from across the country were waiting for it, specially the people of JK,” he said, adding “the government has misled the entire country. This time the SC was forthright and they didn’t come under any pressure”.
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