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

'These people shouldn't be in jail': UN official seeks release of 16 human rights defenders

By Our Representative A United Nations human rights official has called upon the Government of India (GoI) to “immediately release" 16 human rights defenders who have been imprisoned on charges of terrorism in the Bhima-Koregaon Case, insisting, “These people should not be in jail. They are our modern-day heroes and we should all be looking to them and supporting them and demanding their release.”  

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

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.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

Fr Stan's arrest figures in UK Parliament: Govt says, Indian authorities were 'alerted'

London protest for release of Stan Swamy  By Rajiv Shah Will Father Stan Swamy’s arrest, especially the fact that he is a Christian and a priest, turn out to be major international embarrassment for the Government of India? It may well happen, if a recent debate on a resolution titled “India: Persecution of Minority Groups” in the United Kingdom (UK) Parliament is any indication. While Jesuits have protested Fr Stan's arrest in UK and US, the resolution, adopted in the Parliament, said, “This House has considered the matter of persecution of Muslims, Christians and minority groups in India”.

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).