The top court also said that power under Section 144, which prohibits assembly of four or more people, can not be used to suppress legitimate expression of opinion or grievance or exercise of any democratic rights.
The Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) slammed the move, saying if the conditions in the Muslim-majority region were normal, "why are scores of people ... under detention for nearly 160 days and why have the people been denied access to the Internet for over 5 months?"
Access to Internet is a fundamental right under Article 19, the court said, according to a report in the Huffington Post. And Kashmiri firms that do business outside the region have been particularly hard-hit.
Gouhar Geelani, a journalist and writer from Kashmir, said Modi's Hindu nationalist party had used the internet clampdown "to control the Kashmir narrative by placing restrictions on mainstream media and social media platforms".
The apex court directed the Jammu & Kashmir Administration to immediately restore internet services connected with access to government websites, localised/limited e-banking facilities, hospital services and other essential services. "On the contrary, restoration of the internet remains a distant dream in Jammu and Kashmir", the resolution said.
While reading the verdict, Justice Ramana said the court would not delve into the political intent of the orders imposing restrictions in Kashmir.
Singapore Airlines avoids Iran airspace as regional tension rises
The attack was in retaliation by Iran for the killing of its general, Qassem Soeimanni, last week in Baghdad by a USA airstrike. The Federal Aviation Administration has banned USA aircraft from Iraq and Iran airspace following a retaliatory attack by Iran.
Modi's government said the shutdown in Kashmir is necessary to maintain order in the region, which has seen violent clashes between security forces and a separatist insurgency backed by neighbouring Pakistan.
Freedom of press is a requirement in any democratic society for its effective functioning and governments are required to respect this at all times, the Supreme Court said on Friday.
"Suspension of free movement, Internet and basic freedoms can not be an arbitrary exercise of power".
Defense lawyer Vrinda Grover said the Supreme Court had also ordered the Indian government to publish all orders that would block Kashmir in August after Article 370 of the constitution, which gave Kashmir special status, was revoked. "Our limited scope", they wrote, "is 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". We only here to ensure citizens are provided their rights.
The government abrogated Article 370 and 35A of the Constitution on 5 August 2019 and bifurcated the state into two federally administered territories.