Delhi High Court Upholds Block on Messaging App ‘Briar’ in Jammu & Kashmir Citing National Security Concerns

In a significant judgment, the Delhi High Court has upheld the Central government’s decision to block the open-source messaging application ‘Briar’ in Jammu and Kashmir, citing potential threats to national security. The court dismissed a plea by Sublime Software Ltd, the developers of Briar, who challenged the government’s order.

Justice Subramonium Prasad, presiding over the case, emphasized the gravity of national security concerns, stating that principles of natural justice could be overlooked in such scenarios. The court observed that the application was primarily being used by terrorist groups and their affiliates to undermine the security and sovereignty of India.

The interim blocking order was scrutinized by a committee formed under Section 7 of the Blocking Rules, comprising senior officials from the Government of India. This committee confirmed the necessity of the blockade, which applies to a total of 14 software applications, including Briar.

While Briar is blocked in the conflict-sensitive region of Jammu and Kashmir, it remains accessible in other parts of India. The court pointed out that the application’s unique technology allows messages to be sent directly between users without the need for internet connectivity, which can be advantageous during emergencies and natural disasters.

However, the Centre’s counsel argued that the same technology poses a severe risk when misused by hostile elements, particularly in sensitive regions like Jammu and Kashmir. The potential for misuse in such scenarios makes it a significant threat to national security.

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The court also noted the provisions of rule 16 of the Blocking Rules, which mandate strict confidentiality concerning all requests, complaints, and subsequent actions related to blocking orders. This confidentiality is vital for decisions made at the highest level, intended to safeguard the country’s security and sovereignty.

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