SC hearing on 4G in J&K, Govt to respond by August 11


Straight Line News Network

Jammu, August 7: Supreme Court today, while hearing a contempt petition filed by Foundation for Media professionals over the non-constitution of Special committee to review 4G internet restrictions in J&K, sought to know if it was possible to restore high-speed internet in any part of Jammu and Kashmir.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who represented the Centre told the Court that he would have to seek instructions regarding the possibility of partial 4G restoration in some regions of Jammu and Kashmir.

The Bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and BR Gavai adjourned the hearing till August 11. The internet speed in Jammu and Kashmir is restricted to 2G speed as on date.

The top court clarified that after Centre’s response, it will decide on contempt. SG Mehta insisted that there was no contempt and the May 11 order of the top court was complied with.

On July 28, a Justice NV Ramana led bench had asked the Centre to verify if Jammu and Kashmir’s administration has sent any communication to the Ministry of Home Affairs for restoring 4G mobile internet services in the Union Territory. This fact was brought to the top court’s attention by the petitioner, NGO Foundation for Media Professionals, in an affidavit filed in response to the Centre’s reply on the petition.

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi stated apart from J&K Lt Governor GC Murmu, even chief interlocutor Ram Madhav had asked for restoration of 4G internet connectivity. The senior lawyer argued that since the Centre had maintained in its reply that the final call on the matter would be taken by the government of Jammu & Kashmir, the statements were of importance.

It was submitted that on July 26, LG Murmu said that he was not worried about how people would use the high-speed internet, as Pakistan would continue to spread propaganda irrespective of the internet speed. Ahmadi relied on an Indian Express article quoting Murmu as saying,

“We have been making (a) representation for this… I feel that 4G will not be a problem. I am not afraid how people will use this. Pakistan will do its propaganda, whether it is 2G or 4G. It will always be there… But I don’t see an issue.”

The petitioner has alleged contempt of the top court’s May 11 order claiming that the Centre has not reviewed the 4G restrictions as no order has been placed in the public domain.

The Centre had filed an affidavit in July claiming that it was not possible to restore 4G services for the present but left it to the UT administration to decide.

The NGO sought restoration of high-speed 4G internet services saying patients, doctors, and the general public were unable to access the latest information, guidelines, advisories and restrictions about Covid-19 pandemic because of the restrictions. It pointed out slow internet speed makes telemedicine, or online consultation, impossible

The petitioners are represented by Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, with Advocates Shadan Farasat, Apar Gupta, Vrinda Bhandari, and Devdutta Mukhopadhyay.


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