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SC Says Review Committee Orders in Internet Bans Must Be Published, Here’s a Recap of the Anuradha Bhasin Guidelines

The Supreme Court while hearing petitions filed by the Foundation of Media Professionals seeking the State’s compliance with Anuradha Bhasin guidelines held that while deliberations leading to the shutdown order can be skipped, the order itself is required to be published.

Orders of the Review Committee established for overseeing internet shutdown directions issued by Jammu & Kashmir authorities are required to be published, the Supreme Court notably observed on January 30, 2024. The Court was hearing a batch of petitions filed by the Foundation of Media Professionals (FMP) seeking the State’s compliance with the top Court’s guidelines for imposing internet restrictions laid out in Anuradha Bhasin vs. Union of India in 2020. Listing the matter for two weeks after, Justices B.R. Gavai and Sanjay Karol held that while deliberations leading to the shutdown order can be skipped, the order itself is required to be published: “Shri K.M. Natraj, learned Additional Solicitor General of India appearing for Respondent No.1, submits that the perusal of the order would show that the deliberations are not required to be published. We are, prima facie, of the view that it may not be necessary to publish the deliberations, however, the orders passed in the review would be required to be published. Shri K.M. Natraj, therefore, seeks two weeks’ time to take instructions in this regard.” Why does it matter: The SC order significantly calls for accountability and greater transparency on the government's part regarding internet suspension measures. Such measures infringe upon people’s right to access the internet, an integral part of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1) (a) of the Indian Constitution. While instances of internet shutdowns have only increased, it has been reported in the past that the Review Committees are slacking in…

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Curious about the intersection of technology with education, caste and welfare rights. For story tips, please feel free to reach out at sarasvati@medianama.com

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