FMP 4G case: Centre agrees to launch 4G internet in two dists of J&K
After a year of internet restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, the central government said that it would restore 4G internet services in a district each of Jammu and Kashmir to re-look the curb. The government announced this in an affidavit to the contempt petition filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals before the Supreme Court.
The Foundation for Media Professionals had filed a PIL with the Supreme Court earlier this year seeking restoration of 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. In August 2019, the centre had shut down communication during the abrogation of Article 370 of Indian Constitution that gave special legal and constitutional status to J&K. Communication bars were partially lifted in a phased manner after a few months, however, the internet speeds were restricted to 2G.
The Anuradha Bhasin case had helped to create guidelines but these were followed in a narrow manner leading to FMP to seek restoration of 4G services especially because the Covid-19 had forced nationwide lockdowns and shift to a digital life. Data showed that coping was tough in J&K due to the low speeds and it affected all areas of life and democracy including a free press.
In May 2020, the Supreme Court directed the formation of a special committee that would review the restriction and explore if 4G internet could be restored and disposed of the PIL. However, the review committee did not disclose if they had met or reviewed the restrictions and FMP filed a contempt application.
J&K Lieutenant Governor GC Murmu and BJPs Ram Madhav (also the lead interlocutor for J&K) had said in public that 4G internet services should be restored. On 10 August 2020, the government filed an affidavit saying that it was prepared to try out restoration of 4G internet services as a pilot in a district each of Jammu and Kashmir.