Ground Report | News Desk
On Monday, the Supreme Court gave the order on the petitions demanding reinstatement of 4G mobile service in Jammu and Kashmir. The court said that for now, 4G internet facilities cannot be provided in Jammu and Kashmir. The court asked the Center to set up a high-level committee to look into the demands made by various petitioners. The committee will be headed by the Secretary of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
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 Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir,” the order said.
The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) Secretary will head the special panel and the Secretary of Ministry of Communications and the Chief Secretary of the Union Territory would be the members.
“The Special Committee is directed to examine the contentions of, and the material placed herein by, the Petitioners as well as the Respondents. The Committee must also examine the appropriateness of the alternatives suggested by the Petitioners, regarding limiting the restrictions to those areas where it is necessary and the allowing of faster internet (3G or 4G) on a trial basis over certain geographical areas and advise the Respondent No. 1 (Centre) regarding the same, in terms of our earlier directions,” it said.
The court took note of the submissions of the centre that continuous infiltration, foreign influence, violent extremism and issues of national integrity are prevalent in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
The centre had also pointed to certain material, which indicate that cyber terrorism is on the rise within the valley and the Pakistani Military in its “Green Book 2020” has called for an information warfare on Kashmir, after the revocation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir, the order noted.
The top court directions came on pleas filed by Foundation for Media Professionals, Soayib Qureshi and Private Schools Association of Jammu and Kashmir seeking restoration of 4G in the Union Territory on grounds such as right to access doctors is an inherent under Article 21 (Right to Life) of the constitution and it’s deprivation should be judged in view of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
Justice NV Ramana said that the court has to ensure that national security and human rights are balanced. We understand that there are many crises in the Union Territory.
The Secretary, Department of Communications, and Chief Secretary of J&K will be part of the committee.
The bench asked the committee to examine the contentions of, and the material placed herein by the Petitioners as well as the Respondents and “also examine the appropriateness of the alternatives suggested by the Petitioners, regarding limiting the restrictions to those areas where it is necessary and the allowing of faster Internet (3G or 4G) on a trial basis over certain geographical areas”.
The petitioners, including Foundation for Media Professionals, had sought restoration of 4G Internet, citing the lockdown. They said the present 2G service was not enough for children to access online classes or for patients to consult doctors online. The lower service speed, the petitioners said, had also affected businesses dependent on the online mode.
Earlier, the Jammu and Kashmir administration had opposed the resumption of 4G Internet service in the Union Territory in the Supreme Court, saying that terrorists and their handlers from across the border incite people through fake news.