Skip to main content

Union home ministry has no papers to justify internet shutdown in Kashmir: RTI reply

By Our Representative
The Union Home Ministry has confirmed in a reply under the Right to Information Act (RTI), Act, 2005 that it does not have any papers relating to the restrictions on telecommunications imposed in in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). It has also claimed innocence of knowledge vis-a-vis the widely reported arrests and detentions of politicians and social activists who are residents of J&K.
The confirmation comes, says senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak in an email alert, amidst Union Home Minister Amit Shah reportedly seeking information from ex-civil servants on whether lack of telephone services is a violation of fundamental rights.
According to Nayak, “It appears that the Home Ministry officials slipped up in briefing him about the recent Kerala High Court's finding that access to the Internet, especially through mobile telephone service providers, is a fundamental right deemed to be a part of the right to life under Article 21 and the right to education guaranteed under Article 21-A of the Constitution.”
Calling it “innocence of basic and crucial knowledge of rights”, Nayak comments, “Not only the several fundamental freedoms of Kashmiris, but also the rest of India's right to know have taken a severe beating under the enforced policy of One Nation, One Constitution.”
Nearly three weeks after the Central government taking away the special protection given to J&K under the Constitution of India, on August 30, 2019, Nayak sought the information from the Union Ministry of Home Affairs through an online RTI application seeking a clear photocopy of “any order(s)/direction(s)/instruction(s) issued for suspending Internet and telecom services, in J&K.”
He also sought names of political leaders and members of political parties belonging to J&K currently under detention, or being held in police or judicial custody, along with the exact geographical address of the places of their lodgement, as also under which legal provisions.
Pointing out that Central Public Information Officers (CPIOs) in the MHA “seemed to have played soccer” with the RTI application for a few of weeks, moving it from desk to desk within the J&K Division of the Ministry, Nayak said, but they eventually replied that they did not have any of the information sought in his RTI application.
Kerala High Court has ruled that access to internet is a fundamental right, yet the MHA officials did not updated the Home Minister on this development
The reply comes, asserts Nayak, even as the Home Minister seems to be in doubt as to whether lack of telephone services is a human rights violation. On September 30, at a public event, organised in New Delhi by the Former Civil Servants Forum, he reportedly said that the restrictions were only in "some minds and not in J&K.”
At the meeting, he queried ex-civil servants whether the internet shutdown was violation of fundamental right, says Nayak, noting, “This statement came ten after the Kerala High Court ruled that access to Internet is a fundamental right. It is unfortunate that the MHA officials had not updated him on this development or he could have spared himself the embarrassment of asking such a question.”
On September 19, 2019, the Kerala High Court ruled that right to access Internet, particularly through mobile telephone service providers is deemed to be a part of the rights to life and privacy under Article 21 of the Constitution and the right to education under Article 21A of the Constitution of India.
“Although the judgement has the force of law in Kerala only, it is a beacon of light to shine while testing the validity and constitutionality of excessive curbs imposed on telecom services not only in J&K but also other parts of the country”, says Nayak, wondering if the Apex Court on November 14, 2019 would look into this when the two dozen petitions about J&K's constitutional status and the state of affairs in that region are be taken up again.
Nayak suspects, “In all probability the Central government will justify the curbs on telecom services on grounds of protecting the defence and security interests of the State. How the Apex Court will test the proportionality of these curbs will be watched with great interest in all quarters.”

Comments

TRENDING

HSBC shareholders seek exit from funding Adani's 'contentious' Australian coalmine

By Our Representative  In a move that may embarrass India's top business house known to be close to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, shareholders of HSBC, a British multinational investment bank, the largest in Europe with total assets of US$2.715 trillion, are likely to decide at its AGM on May 28, 2021 a plan to exit coal financing related to the Adani Group, as it begins digging the Carmichael mega coal mine in Australia, reports Melbourne-based South Asia Times.

Gross 'injustice' to children: Rs 5000 cr cut in education budget; 15 lakh schools shut down

Counterview Desk  More than 100 dignitaries, including educationists, academia, social activists, teachers’ union, civil society organisations (CSOs), various networks and people working on child rights, in a letter to Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman have sought reversal of reduction in allocation for education in the Union Budget 2021-22, even as demanding substantial increase in it.

Communal rhetoric? Hindutva preached by RSS-BJP is 'monolithic', not Hinduism

By Prem Verma*  I am a devout Hindu but not a believer of RSS Hindutva form of Hinduism which brings about hatred of other religions. My Hindu religion has not taught me to look down on other religions and neither has it instilled in me to go about converting others to my religion because my religion is superior.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Ciminalising 'tool' created, name: Gujarat Land Grabbing Prohibition Act 2020

By Varsha Bhagat-Ganguly, Rejitha Nair* The year 2021 in Gujarat opened its account with 647 alleged land grabbing cases under investigation, 16 FIRs filed against 34 land grabbers within 35 days of Gujarat Land Grabbing Prohibition Act 2020 (GLGPA), as informed by the Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Gujarat State, in a press conference on January 22, 2021. He further informed that of 647 alleged cases, 605 applications of land grabbing were received by different collectors who have initiated suo moto proceedings in 42 cases. The total land in these cases is estimated to be around 1.35 lakh square metre, worth Rs 220 crore as per jantri rates (ready reckoner of land prices in different parts of the state). By March 15, 2021, at least six even cases are before the Gujarat High Court. Of about 11 cases reported in the daily newspapers, in three cases, grabbing of government land is charged, and the rest are land disputes between two individuals. The promptness of the district collect

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

RSS love for 'killer' Myanmar junta behind Indian military presence at Tatmadaw Day?

By Shamsul Islam*  If a shameful act means an action which is criminal and nauseating, it would be an understatement to describe the attitude of the present RSS-BJP rulers of India towards the demolition of democracy and large-scale killing of the people of Myanmar by the military ( tatmadaw ) junta which took power through a coup on February 1, 2021 after renegading the election results in which the party of Aung San Suu Kyi, National League for Democracy, was a clear winner.

Chhattisgarh’s Apra riverfront imitates Sabarmati: 'Devaluing' water, environment

Sabarmati riverfront By Mansee Bal Bhargava*  This year’s #WorldWaterDay (March 22) focus was on ‘Valuing Water’. My school friend, Pragati Tiwari from Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, called that day knowing my interest in water matters. We were remembering our childhood days as how we used to play on the banks and the bed of the Arpa Nadi (River) during the summer holidays and as how the river would swell like Anaconda to flow happily during the monsoon.

Bihar massacre on Holi day: Brahminical, casteist mindset behind 'uneasy' silence

Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Several people were killed in Bihar amidst Holi festivities, but not much response has come in from the media. The silence of the government and the society as a whole is also appalling. We seek to romanticise these festivals, yet we forget that every year they take so many lives. This despite the fact that Holi appears to be the best time for 'avenging things'.

India's draft migrants policy: Whither concern on job restrictions imposed by states?

By Anil Kumar*  India’s Niti Aayog has prepared a Draft Migration Policy. The draft policy acknowledges migration as an integral part of development, and it calls for positive government interventions that facilitate internal migration. With a rights-based solution to migration, the draft states that the policy should “enhance the agency and capability of the community and thereby remove aspects that come in the way of an individual’s own natural ability to thrive”.