If J&K LG is okay wit 4G, then why restrictions, petitioner argues before SC; will verify, says Centre
New Delhi: The Supreme Court was informed today by Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi that Lieutenant Governor of Jammu & Kashmir Girish Chandra Murmu had called for restoring 4G internet connectivity in the valley.
The three-judge Bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai was hearing a plea by Foundation for Media Professionals urging the Court to initiate contempt proceedings against the Union of India for not constituting a special committee to review the internet restrictions in Jammu & Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Ahmadi stated apart from J&K Lt Governor Murmu, even chief interlocutor Ram Madhav had asked for restoration of 4G internet connectivity.
The senior lawyer argued that since the Centre had maintained in its reply that the final call on the matter would be taken by the government of Jammu & Kashmir, the statements were of importance.
It was submitted that on July 26, LG Murmu said that he was not worried about how people would use the high speed internet, as Pakistan would continue to spread propaganda irrespective of the internet speed. Ahmadi relied on an Indian Express article quoting Murmu as saying, “We have been making (a) representation for this… I feel that 4G will not be a problem. I am not afraid how people will use this. Pakistan will do its propaganda, whether it is 2G or 4G. It will always be there… But I don’t see an issue.”
In response to this, Attorney General KK Venugopal stated that he needed to “verify” these statements. The matter is now listed for August 7. When the Bench listed the case for August 5 initially, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the Court that it was a special day for the Valley. On August 5 last year, Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was abrogated by the Indian Parliament.
This submission came soon after Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) informed the apex court that the committee has decided against the restoration of 4G connectivity in the valley for the present.
The four-page affidavit filed on July 21 stated that the special committee was constituted by the Supreme Court itself on May 11, 2020, when the Justice Ramana-led Bench had ordered that a special committee headed by Home Secretary, Government of India be formed to review the internet restrictions in the valley.
The MHA’s affidavit was filed in response to the contempt petition by the Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) over the non-constitution of a special committee to review the ban on 4G speed internet in Jammu and Kashmir. On July 16, the Bench had sought the response of the Centre in the contempt plea even as AG Venugopal insisted that there was no contempt.
On May 11, while declining to order the restoration of 4G internet services in J&K, the Court had said that the constitution of a “special committee”, which is separate from the Review Committee prescribed under the Temporary Telecom Suspension Rules 2017, was necessary having regard to the seriousness of the matter.