No relaxation on 4G internet curbs in Jammu and Kashmir for now: Centre tells SC
The May 11 order was passed by the top court on a plea filed by the NGO in April challenging the order issued by the J&K administration on March 26 restricting internet speed in mobile data to 2G and praying that 4G internet services be restored in Jammu and Kashmir.Updated: Jul 24, 2020 19:29 IST
A special committee constituted as per the Supreme Court’s May 11 order to review internet restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has decided against affording any relaxation to such restrictions for the time being, the Central government told the Supreme Court on July 21.
In the affidavit filed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), it was stated that the special committee held a meeting on June 10, where it comprehensively considered all aspects of the matter including terrorist related incidents in J&K before deciding to continue with the restrictions on 4G mobile internet.
“A thorough and comprehensive consideration of all facets of the matter including recent occurrence of terrorism related incidents in the region was carried out (by the committee). Ultimately, based on wide-ranging assessment of the prevailing situation in this sensitive region, the committee arrived at a decision that no further relaxation on restrictions on internet services, including 4G services, could be carried out at present. It was also decided that the next review of the committee would be carried out in two months,” the affidavit filed by the MHA said.
The response came on a plea by NGO, Foundation of Media Professionals praying for initiation of contempt of court proceedings against the Central government and the Union Territory of J&K on the ground that no action was taken to comply with the top court’s judgment of May 11 to review restrictions on internet.
The May 11 order was passed by the top court on a plea filed by the NGO in April challenging the order issued by the J&K administration on March 26 restricting internet speed in mobile data to 2G and praying that 4G internet services be restored in Jammu and Kashmir.
The petitioner had claimed that patients, doctors, and general public of J&K were unable to access latest information, guidelines, advisories and restrictions about Covid-19 because of restrictions on mobile internet speed to 2G.
“Various public health practitioners, medical professionals, and doctors have repeatedly expressed their concern about wasting precious time trying to download the latest studies, protocols, manuals and advisories on treatment and management of Covid-19. In some cases, doctors are not able to access these resources at all, due to the internet speed being too slow to download heavy files,” it was stated.
Further, it was also pointed out that slow internet speed also renders telemedicine (diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunication) or online video consultation impossible.
The Supreme Court, in its May 11 judgment, refrained from passing directions to restore 4G mobile internet services in J&K instead constituting the special committee comprising high level government officers to take a call on the same and examine the necessity to allow faster internet in certain geographical areas of the newly formed union territory. The committee was to comprise the secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs, secretary of Ministry of Communications and the chief secretary of J&K.
The NGO then approached the court in June filing the present contempt petition submitting that there is no information available in the public domain about whether the constitution of the special committee has been notified and whether it has conducted any meetings or passed any orders.
The MHA, however, told the court that the committee stood constituted by the May 11 order of the Supreme Court itself and no separate notification was required in this regard from the central government.
The special committee met on May 15 to review the restrictions and decided to obtain further inputs before taking any decision. It subsequently met on June 10 and decided not to relax the restrictions, the centre said.
“In view of the above, the contempt petition is misconceived and without any merit and is liable to be rejected”, the affidavit added.