SC directions for review by special committee await compliance even as J&K internet ban restrictions extended

A contempt petition was filed on June 9 stating that despite the directions, no such Committee seems to have been constituted

Supreme Court of India (File photo)
Supreme Court of India (File photo)
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NH Web Desk

With another order being passed by the Jammu and Kashmir Administration, extending the restrictions on internet speed till 29thth July, the contempt petition filed by Foundation of Media Professionals against the failure of government officials in constituting a "Special Committee" to review internet restrictions in J&K as per Supreme Court directions is yet to be listed despite being filed weeks ago, reports legal news website LiveLaw.in.

An order was passed on Wednesday by the Home Secretary of J&K Administration stating that it was necessary to continue the restrictions on internet speed as high-speed net was likely to be used for "uploading/downloading/circulation of provocative content on the social media" and would aid in recruitment of "gullible youth into the terrorist ranks", amongst other things.

It further mentioned that 2G speed had not impeded the government's efforts in COVID-19 control, education and business activities.

The instant order, along with the previous order issued on 17th June, was passed without complying with the May 11 instructions of the Supreme Court wherein the apex court had directed for the constitution of a "Special Committee" headed by the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, to examine the issues that had been raised by the Petitioners in a plea which sought for restoration of 4G speed internet services in Jammu and Kashmir.

A bench comprising Justice N V Ramana, B R Gavai and R Subhash Reddy had ordered: "We are of the view that since the issues involved affect the State, and the nation, the Review Committee which consists of only State level officers, may not be in a position to satisfactorily address all the issues raised. We, therefore, find it appropriate to constitute a Special Committee comprising of the following Secretaries at national, as well as State, level to look into the prevailing circumstances and immediately determine the necessity of the continuation of the restrictions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir".

A contempt petition was filed on June 9 stating that despite the directions of the court, no such Committee seems to have been constituted, and no order has been published by them, reviewing the J&K Administration's orders.

The petition, on this ground, seeks the initiation of contempt proceedings and the summoning of the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Chief Secretary, U.T. of Jammu and Kashmir, who are members of the Special Committee, to explain their wilful disobedience of the Supreme Court's judgement.

It is pertinent to note at this point that despite the contempt petition having been filed ten days back, it is yet to be listed due to functioning of the Supreme Court Registry being impacted by COVID-19. However, this delayed listing sheds a light on the partiality exhibited in listing of cases.

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court dismissed a PIL which alleged the SC Registry was showing undue preferences and favoritism while listing matters. A bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra dismissed with PIL filed by Advocate Reepak Kansal with a cost of Rs 100, observing that "Registry was being blamed unecessarily".

With successive orders being passed by the Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir, extending the restrictions on internet speed, without the convening of a Special Committee as per the directions of the Supreme Court, the outcome of the contempt petition filed remains to be seen.

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