International Journal For Multidisciplinary Research
A Widely Indexed Open Access Peer Reviewed Multidisciplinary Bi-monthly Scholarly International Journal
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Volume 6 Issue 1
Democracy In The Dark: Internet Shutdowns In India As A Challenge to Freedom of Speech and Expression
|Th Rubina M Fancon
|The right to access the internet is intrinsically linked to fundamental rights such as the right to education and the right to privacy under Articles 21A and 21 of the Indian Constitution, respectively. The internet not only enhances the quality of education but also serves as a powerful tool for the free expression of knowledge and ideas. It has been recognized globally as a human right, and adherence to this right is imperative for countries signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Freedom of speech and expression, enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, extends to the internet, with reasonable restrictions outlined in Article 19(2). In recent years, internet shutdowns in India have become increasingly common, particularly during periods of civil unrest and protests. While the government has the authority to impose reasonable restrictions on freedom of speech and expression to maintain public order, the arbitrary use of internet shutdowns has become a concerning trend. This paper explores the reasons behind and the consequences of these shutdowns on the right to freedom of speech and expression. The internet is a crucial medium for citizens to communicate, express dissent, and seek support, especially during times of crisis and unrest. Its importance is evident in regions like Jammu and Kashmir and the North Eastern states of India, where prolonged internet shutdowns have isolated affected communities from the rest of the country. The imposition of internet shutdowns as a means to restore peace raises questions about its reasonableness and adherence to constitutional provisions. The paper cites landmark cases, such as Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India, where the Supreme Court emphasized the importance of necessity and proportionality in internet shutdown orders. The lack of accountability mechanisms, combined with normalized shutdowns, has allowed the government to stifle dissent without justifiable cause. To protect fundamental rights and uphold the principles of democracy, judicial activism and a critical evaluation of government actions are essential. The paper concludes that internet shutdowns, as a means of suppressing free speech and expression, often fail to meet the criteria of reasonable restrictions and are, therefore, a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Indian Constitution.
|Internet shutdowns, freedom of speech and expression, reasonable restrictions, Indian Constitution.
|Volume 6, Issue 1, January-February 2024
|Democracy In The Dark: Internet Shutdowns In India As A Challenge to Freedom of Speech and Expression - Th Rubina M Fancon - IJFMR Volume 6, Issue 1, January-February 2024. DOI 10.36948/ijfmr.2024.v06i01.13241
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