Case Name: Anuradha Bhasin Vs Union of India, (2020) 3 SCC 637

Equivalent Citations: 2020 SCC Online SC 25; Ghulam Nabi Azad Vs Union of India

Date of Judgement: 10/01/2020

Case No.: Writ Petition (Civil) No. 1031 of 2019

Case Type: Writ Petition

Petitioner: Anuradha Bhasin and Ors.

Respondent: Union of India and Ors.

Bench: Hon’ble Justice N.V.S Ramana, Hon’ble Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Hon’ble Justice B.R. Gavai.

Court: Supreme Court of India

Statutes Referred:

  • Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017- Section: R. 2(1), R. 2(2)
  • Telegraph Act,1885; – Section: 5(2)
  • Information Technology Act, 2000; – Section: 69-A
  • Criminal Procedure Code, 1973. – Section: 144

Cases Referred:

  • Ghulam Nabi Azad Vs Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1726;
  • Ram Jethmalani Vs Union of India, (2011) 8 SCC 1;
  • Shreya Singhal Vs Union of India, (2015) 5 SCC 1;
  • Narendra Kumar Vs Union of India, (1960) 2 SCR 375;
  • Minerva Mills Limited Vs Union of India, (1980) 2 SCC 581;
  • Bennet Coleman & Company Vs Union of India, (1972) 2 SCC 788
  • K.S.Puttaswamy (Privacy-9J) Vs Union of India, (2017) 10 SCC 1


  • The President of India issued Constitutional Order 272 on 05/08/2019 applying all provisions of the constitution of India in the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The DMs of various districts invoked powers vested unto them under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which restricted movement and public gatherings on the apprehension of breach of peace and tranquility.
  • The petitioner (Executive editor of Kashmir Times) was aggrieved by restrictions imposed on movement and communication of journalists, which was hindering the media professionals to practice their profession and sought an issuance of an appropriate writ to quash all orders by the respondent which put a bar on any mode of communication and therefore enable the media to practice its profession while asking the respondent to create a safe environment for media to work in and also pleaded for the framing of guidelines to ensure that the rights and means of media personnel to report and publish news is not unreasonably curtailed.

Issues Involved:

  • Whether the Government can claim exemption from producing all the orders passed under Section 144 Cr.P.C and other orders under the Suspension Rules?
  • Whether the freedom of speech and expression and freedom to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business over the internet is a part of the fundamental rights under Part III of the Constitution?
  • Whether the Government’s action of prohibiting internet access is valid?
  • Whether the imposition of restrictions under Section 144 CrPC was valid?
  • Whether the freedom of press of the petitioner in WP (C) No. 1031 of 2019 was violated due to the restrictions?

Petitioner’s Arguments:

  • It was contended that print media had stopped functioning which is a very important aspect of modern press due to non-availability of internet and also the petitioner had not been able to work post 05/08/2019 due to the various restrictions imposed.
  • The petitioner requested for a test of “reasonableness and proportionality” since it is necessary for any law curbing the rights of speech and expression to pass the aforementioned test.
  • The indefinite restriction on telecom services was arbitrary and contrary to Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017 where it was contemplated that the restrictions imposed on telecom services would be of temporary nature and therefore asserted that there was non-application of mind and also no reasoning justifying the restrictions was given as is required under the suspension rules.
  • The situation at the time when the orders were passed did not warrant the passing of the orders resulting in restrictions.

Respondents’ Arguments:

  • It was contended that the measures taken were taken in consideration of the high frequency of internal militancy and cross-border terrorism in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The restrictions imposed are for ensuring safety of citizens based on ground reports and the facts of petitioners were incorrect.
  • Internet is very fast and useful for communication from both the sides unlike newspaper and can be used to spread fake messages and incite violence and has been used for such purposes many times already even before the abrogation of article 370.
  • Restrictions were being put on the basis of threat perception and were being relaxed where they were not required such as in Ladakh and other regions of Jammu where restrictions were not imposed, proving that the suspension rules were not imposed without application of mind.


  • The court ordered the respondent to publish all the orders of restrictions being passed, so that unlike the petitioners, now people can file a case against any order which they feel violates their rights.
  • The freedom of speech and expression and to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business over the internet is a fundamental right protected under article 19(1)(a) and 19(1)(g) of the constitution.
  • The government has the right to impose restrictions on the aforementioned rights under article 19(2) and 19(6).
  • The power under section 144 of CrPC can be invoked not only when there exists present danger but also when there is an apprehension of danger but not for suppressing any legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights.
  • The orders not in accordance with the rule of law laid must be revoked and if need arises in future for fresh orders, then the law laid down herein must be followed.

The Petition was disposed of on the aforementioned terms.

Ratio Decidendi:

  • The restrictions came out to be reasonable and are temporary. The respondent had imposed some restrictions indefinitely and therefore was ordered by the court to review and lift indefinite suspension orders.
  • The power under section 144 of Cr.P.C should have a rationale behind the invocation and must present material facts so as to enable judicial review.
  • Though the chilling effect of the restrictions could not be proved in the case and the fact that the petitioner had resumed working normally, the court did not dive into the matter further but asked the government to respect the freedom of media provide them a safe environment without any undue influence to work in.


The freedom of speech and expression and to practice any profession, or to carry on any occupation, trade or business over the internet was given the status of fundamental rights since many businesses now take place online and internet is an essential source of livelihood for many people nowadays while also helping them to form a collective conscience without the need of physical meeting and showed that the apex court believes in changing thoughts and necessities with the changing times and the judgement upheld the importance of press freedom while balancing it with the requirements of Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure and need to curtail certain freedom for national security.

Drafted By: Sarwang Mathur (University School of Law and Legal Studies)

Published On: September 27, 2021 at 19:39 IST

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