India's Supreme Court rules Kashmir internet shutdown is illegal

Igor Bonifacic
Contributing Writer
ASSOCIATED PRESS

India's government has one week to review a long-running internet shutdown in Kashmir after the country's Supreme Court ruled that internet access is protected under the Indian constitution. Kashmir has not had internet access since August 2019 when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Hindu-nationalist party voted to revoke the territory's special status under Article 370 of the Indian constitution.

After more than 150 days, the blackout is the longest in the history of any democracy, according to digital rights group Access Now. Approximately 7 million people have been affected by the crackdown, which has caused strains on both people's day-to-day lives and the region's economy.

"Freedom of Internet access is a fundamental right," said justice N. V. Ramana. "We think it necessary to reiterate that complete broad suspension of telecom services, be it the Internet or otherwise, being a drastic measure, must be considered by the State only if 'necessary' and 'unavoidable,'" the court said in another passage.

However, the Supreme Court did not order the government to restore Kashmir's internet immediately, and it's not clear if it will go about the process gradually or all at once.