SC forms committee to review FMP submissions to restore 4G in J&K
A bench of the Supreme Court has directed a joint committee of union and state government officials to review the plea made by the Foundation of Media Professionals (FMP) that urged restoration of 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir during the Covid-19 pandemic and the lockdown.
FMP owns and operates this website <mediatrack.in>.
Legal news website Livelaw.in reports that, after hearing arguments over video-conferencing, a bench of the Supreme Court directed the formation of a special committee led by the union home secretary and also comprising the union telecom secretary and the chief secretary of J&K. A three-judge bench led by Justice Ramanna said that this committee will consider points made in FMPs petition and the possibility of starting 4G services on a trial basis in a few areas.
FMP had filed a petition before the Supreme Court pointing out that 4G internent had been suspended in Kashmir since August 2019, since the central government had imposed several restrictions in J&K, following the parliamentary abrogation of Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, which had granted special powers to the state. The petition was drafted with the help and legal advice of the Internent Freedom Foundation.
In January 2020, the Supreme Court had directed that orders to suspend internet services should not be for longer than seven days, following a review of the said order. That direction had been made in the Anuradha Bhasin case, in which FMP had also intervened.
In March 2020, FMP filed this petition pointing out that the orders were being mechanically reviewed and extended. A further affidavit had been filed showing examples of how common citizens were suffering due to lack of access to information as well as lack of access to essential utilities and services without 4G internet. This also included statements of doctors who found it difficult to operate due to the lack of 4G internet services in the valley.
The J&K administration had responded citing security issues as a reason for the continued suspension and urged that access to internet was not a fundamental right.
FMP had also suggested that particular sites could be blocked instead of suspending 4G services in toto.