Govt actions in J&K not justified, review curbs within 7 days: Supreme Court

Govt actions in J&K not justified, review curbs within 7 days: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court observed Friday that the Centre's actions in Kashmir weren't justified by the emergency situation in the region.

The top court asked the territory's government to publish all orders on Internet suspension and travel restrictions to enable legal challenges.

It also asked for a review of all orders on unlawful assembly (Section 144) and Internet suspension within seven days, followed by weekly periodic reviews.

The region has been under a lockdown since early August 2019, when the Home Ministry told Parliament that Jammu and Kashmir, then a state, would lose its special status and be split into two Union Territories -J&K and Ladakh. The bifurcation came into effect on October 31.

The Supreme Court said repetitive Section 144 orders were an abuse of power.

Such orders can't be used to suppress legitimate expression, and their use needs to be justified by concerns of immediate violence, it said.

The right to access Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, and total shutdowns are "drastic" measures that should be considered only when "absolutely necessary", the Supreme Court said.

A digital rights group, Access Now, recently reported that the internet shutdown in the region was the longest in a democracy.