Fundamental Right Current Affairs - 2020

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Supreme Court: Access to Internet-a fundamental right

On January 10, 2020, the Supreme Court of India said that Right of access to internet is a fundamental right. The Court had asked the administration of Jammu and Kashmir to review the curbs on internet in a week.

Lately the Indian Government had been using internet shut down as a tool to control protest in the country against the Citizenship Amendment Bill. It was predominant in the north eastern states.

Highlights

A three-member bench of the apex court heard on a batch of pleas against complete blockage of internet in Kashmir. Kashmir was shut out of internet for five months now, since abrogation of Article 370.

The bench pronounced that freedom of speech and expression and freedom to practice any business or trade over internet is constitutionally protected under Article 19 (1).

The judgement also read that Section 144 CrPC shall not be used to suppress freedom of speech and expression.

2016 UN Resolution

In 2016, the UNHRC (United Nations Human Rights Council) released a resolution that condemned disruption of internet access by government. Before passing the resolution UN quoted that there were 15 internet shut downs in 2015 and 20 in 2017. The UN referred to internet ban in Turkey after terrorist attacks, internet shut down in India after local protests and internet blockage in Algeria.

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Supreme Court allows passive euthanasia, living will

The Supreme Court (SC) allowed passive euthanasia and right to give advance medical directives or ‘Living Wills’, stating that human beings have the right to die with dignity as part of fundamental right, but made sure to set out strict guidelines that will govern when it is permitted.

The ruling was given by five-judge Constitution Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. Passive euthanasia is act of withdrawing or withholding medical support to dying patient who has no hope for revival or cure.

SC Ruling

Fundamental right to life and dignity under Article 21 of Constitution includes right to die with dignity. Dignity is lost if man is allowed or forced to undergo pain and suffering because of unwarranted medical support.

It distinguished passive euthanasia from suicide and active euthanasia. It called passive euthanasia as mere acceleration of inevitable conclusion. It concluded that Active euthanasia is unlawful. It held that suicide involves overt acts which culminate in unnatural death.

Valid ‘Living Will’ facilitates passive euthanasia and failure to legally recognise advance medical directive inconveniences right to smoothen dying process. In cases of terminally ill or permanently vegetative state patients, where there is no hope for revival, priority should be given to Living Wills and right of self-determination.

It also laid down principles for execution of advance directives and spelt out guidelines and safeguards to give effect to passive euthanasia. The directive and guidelines shall remain in force till Parliament brings a legislation in the field.

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