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Why in news?

Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad on 2nd march 2020 – said access to Internet is plainly non-negotiable as it flows from the right to information.

He also said that, the international arbitration centre at the National Capital, established under the New Delhi International Arbitration Act of 2019, would be “completely autonomous”. Foreign arbitrators would be permitted.

Supreme Court on Access to Internet and Fundamental Right

  • The Supreme Court had declared, on January 2020, that – Access to Internet is a Fundamental Right. A government cannot deprive the citizens of fundamental rights except under certain conditions explicitly mentioned in the Constitution.
  • The ruling came on hearing of a plea in connection with Internet blockade in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 — in the view of revoking of Article 370 in the Union Territory.
  • Indian constitution makes the right to freedom of speech and expression a fundamental right for all citizens- listed in Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution. The Supreme Court has on many occasions expanded the scope of the right to freedom of speech and expression.
  • The Supreme Court ruling is also in sync with the United Nations recommendation that every country should make access to Internet a fundamental right.
  • A state cannot technically declare a service, facility or a kind protection as fundamental right as it requires interpretation of (by high courts and/or the Supreme Court) or amendment to the Constitution by Parliament.

Article 19. Protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech etc.,

Clause (1) All citizens shall have the right

  1. to freedom of speech and expression;
  2. to assemble peaceably and without arms;
  3. to form associations or unions;
  4. to move freely throughout the territory of India;
  5. to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India; and
  6. omitted
  7. to practise any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business

The State can enact laws that imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right in the Interests of:

  1. the sovereignty and integrity of India,
  2. the security of the State,
  3. friendly relations with foreign States,
  4. public order, decency or morality
  5. in relation to contempt of court, defamation or
  6. incitement to an offence
July 2024