Connection Can Be Snapped For Nat’l Security: Law Min


New Delhi:

Union law and communication minister Ravi Shankar Prasad justified snapping of internet services for maintaining law and order and national security on Thursday while saying that the right to internet is not fundamental. The minister said the right to expression is subject to reasonable restrictions as provided in the Constitution.

Responding to a question on if internet is a fundamental right based on a recent Supreme Court observation, Prasad said there is a misconception that needs to be cleared. He said that the decision to stop internet services is taken by local authorities considering the law and order situation.

Though he did not specify how many times such measures have been taken, sources said there were over 700 such instances across states since 2017. Only in one case, Centre had decided stopping internet services in Delhi as the national capital is a Union Territory and Centre is responsible for law and order.

Sources said internet services were snapped across several states including Maharashtra, West Bengal, Gujarat, Punjab, north-eastern states, Jammu, Kashmir and Uttar Pradesh.

During the Question Hour, Prasad said in the Rajya Sabha that communication of ideas and opinions through the internet is part of the fundamental right to speech and expressions. “The Supreme Court has stated that no lawyer argued that right to the internet is a fundamental right. What the top court has commented that for communication of your ideas and opinions, the use of the internet will also be holding a part of your fundamental right of speech and expression,” Prasad said.

He said no one can deny the abuse of the internet for spreading violence and terrorism, and Pakistan has been doing it in Kashmir and ISIS prospered because of the internet. “Can we deny that internet is not being abused by terrorists, by agent provocateurs, by giving fake news, demanding other kind of exhortation for communal violence? Therefore, what the law agency does is that they do it periodically across the country,” Prasad said.

“What the SC has done is they have said that temporary suspension of rules must be periodically reviewed,” the minister said.