The Delhi High Court has upheld the Centre’s order to ban messaging application Briar in Jammu and Kashmir, observing that in matters of national security, the principle of natural justice can be given a go-by, reported Bar and Bench on Monday.

Briar is a free and open-source software that is freely licensed to be used. This means that the source code of the application is openly shared and anyone can copy, study and change the software in any way.

On July 2, a single bench of Justice Subramonium Prasad passed the order in response to a plea by Briar that sought a stay on the Centre’s order banning it in Jammu and Kashmir. The plea had also sought a direction to the Union government to disclose details of the order, passed under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

The government defended its decision telling the court that Briar can work even in the absence of an internet connection and is suspected to be used by militants in Jammu and Kashmir, reported Bar and Bench. Its misuse can pose a threat to the national security, sovereignty and integrity of India, the government had contended.

In its order on July 2, the High Court said that the Centre’s decision taken at the highest level for the benefit of national security can be kept confidential.

“At the outset it is to be stated that in matters of national security, principles of natural justice can be given a go-by,” the court said. “It is well settled that the right to a fair hearing may have to yield to overriding considerations of national security.”

The court said that the interim order passed by the government has been reviewed by a committee of top government officials constituted under the Blocking Rules of the Information and Technology Act.

Briar has been blocked only in Jammu and Kashmir and can be used in all other parts of the country, the court noted as it dismissed the plea.