No 4G Internet in Kashmir for Now, Centre Tells SC

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New Delhi- People in Jammu and Kashmir will not be getting 4G internet anytime soon as the central government has decided to continue the restrictions in the region.

The Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has informed the Supreme Court that the special committee constituted to look into the issue of restoring 4G internet in Jammu and Kashmir decided against resuming the services.

In an affidavit filed earlier this week, in response to contempt petition against the Jammu and Kashmir administration, the MHA said: “Based on a considered and wide-ranging assessment of the prevailing situation in this sensitive region, the committee arrived at a decision that no further relaxation of restrictions on internet services, including 4G services, could be carried out at present.

The home ministry also said situation in the union territory will be reviewed by other competent authorities for the next two months. If there is improvement, appropriate action would accordingly be taken.

MHA’s affidavit follows a direction given on 16 July by a Supreme Court bench, led by Justice N.V. Ramana, to answer allegations of contempt raised against it in a petition by the Foundation of Media Professionals (FMP).

The FMP petition had sought action against government officials for allegedly defying the top court’s order to form the special committee. The bench had then observed that the government should have put the committee’s decision, to not resume 4G internet services in J&K, in the public domain.

The bench had noted the decision on the services should have been put in the public domain.

According to the affidavit, the special committee had held two meetings, before arriving at the conclusion to not ease restrictions on internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. The affidavit added that a separate government notification was not required since the committee was formed following court’s directive.

On May 15, the first meeting was held, four days after the Apex court ruling to form a panel to review internet restrictions. In this meeting, suggestions put forward by the petitioners were discussed and also the prevailing security situation along with the impact of internet restrictions in the region were looked into. No conclusion was reached during the meeting and it was decide to gather more inputs in connection with present situation on the ground.

The committee met again on June 10 to analyse the fresh inputs.

“A thorough and comprehensive and consideration of all facets of the matter, including the feasibility of alternatives suggested by the petitioners as well as the recent occurrence of terrorism-related incidents in the region, was carried out” said the affidavit.

A report to this effect was duly submitted by special committee to the government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. This report comprises of details of the entire exercise carried out by the special committee, as well as considerations which weighted with its members. This report was also placed before the top court.

“A reading of this report would establish beyond doubt that there is no merit whatsoever in the allegations levelled against the respondents in the contempt petition”, added the affidavit.

The top court on May 11, had the directed the government to constitute a three-member high-powered committee to examine the issue involved in restoring 4G internet services in J&K. This committee was headed by MHA Secretary, and also constituted the secretary of the Department of Telecom (DoT) and chief secretary of J&K.

The committee was asked to decide on the need to continue the restriction of mobile internet speed to only 2G bandwidth in the region.

The MHA said the Apex court order was complied “faithfully” by officials concerned of the Centre and J&K governments. The affidavit said that the contentions regarding the alleged failure to constitute this special committee through a notification or order of the government are wholly wrong and misconceived.

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