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Indian Case Summary

Anuradha Bhasin vs Union Of India on 10 January, 2020 – Case Summary

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In the case of Anuradha Bhasin vs Union of India on 10 January 2020, the Supreme Court of India was tasked with adjudicating on a matter that involved a delicate balance between liberty and security. The case was brought forth by Anuradha Bhasin, the executive editor of a major newspaper, and Ghulam Nabi Azad, a politician who alleged that he was stopped from traveling to his constituency in Jammu and Kashmir.

Facts of the Case

The case arose in the backdrop of the abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which granted special status to the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Following the abrogation, the Government of India imposed several restrictions in the region, including a shutdown of mobile phone networks, internet services, and landline connectivity, along with restrictions on movement in some areas. These measures were taken in the interest of maintaining peace and security in the region.

Anuradha Bhasin contended that these restrictions severely hampered the functioning of the press, as the non-availability of internet services brought the print media to a halt. Ghulam Nabi Azad, on the other hand, claimed that he was unable to communicate with the people of his constituency due to these restrictions.

Issues Raised

The petitioners approached the Supreme Court under Article 32 of the Constitution, seeking the quashing of all orders, notifications, directions, and/or circulars issued by the respondents under which any/all modes of communication were shut down or suspended. They also sought the restoration of all modes of communication throughout Jammu and Kashmir and the assurance of free and safe movement of reporters, journalists, and other media personnel.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the task before it was to strike a balance between liberty and security concerns. It acknowledged that while liberty and security have always been at loggerheads, it was necessary to ensure that citizens are provided all the rights and liberty to the highest extent in a given situation while ensuring security at the same time.

The court also noted that the restrictions imposed were meant to be temporary in nature, but they had lasted for more than 100 days. It emphasized that such restrictions on the fundamental rights are serious and need to be tested on the anvil of reasonableness and proportionality.

The court also acknowledged the unique historical background of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and the problem of cross-border terrorism and internal militancy. It stated that the abrogation of Article 370 was a historic step, which resulted not in the taking away of the rights of the citizens of Jammu and Kashmir, but the conferment of rights upon them which they never had.

Conclusion

The court did not delve into the political propriety of the decision taken, stating that it was best left for democratic forces to act on. It emphasized that its limited scope was to strike a balance between the liberty and security concerns so that the right to life is secured and enjoyed in the best possible manner. The court’s decision in this case underscores the delicate balance that must be maintained between individual liberties and national security, particularly in regions that are prone to violence and unrest.