Saturday, January 29, 2022

Kashmir 4G Net Connectivity Ban, SC Seeks Centre’s Response

The Foundation for Media Professionals had filed a contempt petition based on the alleged non-constitution of the special committee to review ban on high-speed internet in the Kashmir Valley.

Discussions on the need to rethink and revise the restrictions on high-speed 4G internet connectivity in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir have been going on for a long time and in a latest development the Centre went ahead and informed the Supreme Court of India that a special committee that was being charged by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla had met two times to discuss the need to review the restrictions on high-speed internet accessibility in the Valley. 

The committee has now deferred the issue keeping into mind the tense situation and the continuous influx of terror attacks in the Valley. The committee has decided to meet again after two months and in the meantime it will be looking at further reports from the Valley. The Supreme Court has questioned the government for not putting out the decision of the special committee in the public domain. 

It was in the month of May that the Supreme Court had directed the government to constitute a high power committee to look into the question of restoring high-speed internet in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and the special committee was to be given the task of determining what should be the course of action in the future and whether high-speed internet could safely be restored in the Valley now. The committee has now clearly denied the possibility of restoring high-speed internet in the Valley and has suggested that another special committee be created under the Telecom Suspension Rules 2017.

It is in this regard that a contempt petition that had been filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals had complained that a committee such as this hadn’t been formed in reality even after 29 days had passed after the issuing of the order by the government. The special bench had given the government, seven days to make a response to its contempt petition.  The total communication blackout was imposed in the Valley in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370 in August last year and in January 2020, internet services were only partially restored but only at 2G speed and social media continued to be blocked. The Supreme Court had noted that suspending the internet for an indefinite period of time couldn’t be justified and the blockade on social media was lifted on March 4, keeping the speed at 2G.

 

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