4G internet to be restored in select districts of J&K on experimental basis after August 15, AG tells SC
On August 7, the Bench, while hearing a contempt petition against J&K admin, had sought to know from the SG if high speed internet service can be restored in any part of Jammu & Kashmir
Attorney General KK Venugopal on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that high speed internet services will be restored in some specific districts in Jammu & Kashmir on an experimental basis, legal news website BarandBench.com has reported.
The Court was told that the restoration of internet speed in select districts of the Union Territory will be done on experimental basis, and with strict monitoring, after Independence Day.
AG Venugopal said that the threat perception in the border regions still remained high and that the monitoring committee would assess the impact of the relaxation of restrictions on internet speed in one district of Jammu & Kashmir at a time. He said, "The special committee held a meeting on August 10 and after considering the situation prevalent and security of nation, it was of the view that threat perception on security continues to be high. The committee was of view that broadband access is available through landline for educational institutions and hospitals...the special committee was of view that high speed can be relaxed in areas with less violence."
The court was further told that this relaxation will not be effected in any area along the international border or the Line of Control (LoC), and would be tried in areas that have low intensity of terrorist activities.
On August 7, the Bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy, and BR Gavai, while hearing a contempt petition against the Jammu & Kashmir administration, had sought to know from Solicitor General Tushar Mehta if high speed internet service can be restored in any part of Jammu & Kashmir.
In Tuesday’s hearing, Senior Counsel Huzefa Ahmadi said that the issue of non-compliance with the court's order as regards publication of restriction orders still remains to be addressed. He proposed that the hearing be adjourned for a month in order to assess whether the situation on the ground changes in light of the AG's submissions. The court however, said, "We appreciate the stand taken by you. But the point that orders need to be in public domain is something they (authorities) are saying will be taken care of. But if there is anything thereafter you can come before us."
Ahmadi suggested that though the contempt matter can be disposed of in light of the positive stand taken by the government, the application which touches upon the issue of publication of orders may be kept alive. SG Mehta took objection to this suggestion, stating that petitioners appear to be attempting to monitor the functioning of the committee.
He said, "Writ petition was already disposed of till the contempt was filed. IA is to keep this issue alive somehow. These are issues to be decided on day-to-day basis based on ground reports. Petitioners are trying to virtually monitor how the committees are working."
On the issue of the setting up of a review committee, the court said that a Special Committee was appointed and constituted by the court and the
formation details do not need to be in public domain. The court also clarified that the Special Committee is a one-time measure and will not be one to substitute the regular committee.
When the court elaborated that the regular committee under the statutory rules will remain to be in place, Ahmadi argued that the details of this regular committee then need to be in public domain.
On July 28, the court had asked the Centre to verify if Jammu and Kashmir’s administration has sent any communication to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for restoring 4G mobile internet services in the region.
Ahmadi had stated that apart from Jammu & Kashmir Lt Governor GC Murmu, even chief interlocutor Ram Madhav had asked for restoration of 4G internet connectivity.
The senior lawyer had 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.
The petitioner, Foundation for Media Professionals, has alleged contempt of the Apex 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 at present.