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Phone, internet shutdown in J&K ‘illegal and unconstitutional’, SC told

Press Trust of India

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NEW DELHI: Notifications and orders shutting down mobile, landline and internet services in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 were “illegal and unconstitutional”, the Supreme Court was told Tuesday.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana was told that even after 90 days, communication services — data, internet, pre-paid mobiles and SMS — were not operational in the Kashmir Valley, affecting the working of the media.

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Executive Editor of Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin who has challenged the restrictions imposed in the Valley, said the state has the power to put reasonable restrictions on the rights conferred under Article 19 (protection of certain rights regarding freedom of speech) but it cannot extinguish the right itself.

 

“There is absolute communicationsNSE 0.22 % shutdown from August 4. It requires to be tested by this court. Yes, there can be reasonable restrictions on rights under Article 19 but the same cannot extinguish the right itself,” she told the bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai.

Grover argued that orders issued by the authorities were with regard to reduction of speed of 3G and 4G data but the internet service was totally shut down.

“This order is illegal and unconstitutional,” she said while referring to one of the orders issued by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Kashmir zone.

“There is complete non-application of mind while issuing these orders. These are bald orders,” she said.

She argued that the Jammu and Kashmir administration has said in its affidavit that for national security and to prevent loss of life, certain measures were taken.

Grover said authorities have claimed that internet services could be misused by “anti national elements” but their own data shows that incident of terrorist violence has gone down.

“Is their any proximate nexus between internet and terrorist violence?,” she said, adding that, “90 days are over now. The word ‘temporary’ will lose its meaning if the restrictions still continue”.

Referring to the provisions of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017 and Indian Telegraph Act, she said that restrictions could be imposed only for temporary period and it cannot be enforced for longer time.

She said the media has got protection under the Constitution and freedom of press can be curbed only through a reasoned and specific order.

“So, according to you, general order of prohibition does not apply in your case unless special orders with reasons are passed?,” the bench asked.

Responding to the query, the lawyer while referring to the rules said, “Yes. There has to be order with specific reasons with regard to press”.

Grover also said that if the authorities had apprehension about misuse of internet services, then why the landline phone services were shut down.

“But wi-fi uses landline. At our residence, we use landline for wi-fi,” the bench asked

To this, the counsel said landline phones do not require data services at all.

“Even today, people in Kashmir cannot use data on their mobile phones,” she said during the arguments which would continue on Wednesday.

The top court had on October 24 asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration as to how long they intend to continue the restrictions, including internet blockade, imposed in the valley.

It had said authorities may impose restrictions for national interest but they have to be reviewed from time to time.

Bhasin had earlier told the bench that the Centre and J&K administration had suppressed from the top court the orders and notifications on the basis of which physical and communication restrictions were imposed in the valley.

However, the J&K administration had said those orders and notifications would be placed before the top court but those cannot be shared with the petitioners.


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Class 12 results declared, 76% pass exam: Girls take away cake, bag all top positions

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, Jan 22: Girls outshined boys in the Class 12th exam results by bagging top positions in all the streams.

The result of examination was declared on Wednesday with girls securing 54 out of 67 positions. Overall pass percentage was 76 percent compared to 51.77 percent last year

 Of the 46599 students, who had appeared for the examination last year, 35454 have been declared successful by Jammu and Kashmir State Board of School Education (BOSE)

 

Overall pass percentage of government schools was 74 percent. However, private schools took away the cake with 90 per cent pass percentage.

Humera Rashid of Higher Secondary School Lasjan and Isha Bashir of Mallinson Girls Higher Secondary School secured first position in science stream with 490 marks. Sadiq Peerzada of Tyndale Biscoe School secured second position in science stream with 488 marks.

The first 10 positions in the science stream were shared by 29 students and 19 among them are girls. In the commerce stream, the first 10 positions were shared by 12 students including 10 girls.  Moreover, girl students bagged all the 10 positions in Home Science stream.  Fifteen of the 16 students shared the first 10 position in the arts stream. 

Of the 22993 girls who had written the exam, 17635 have been declared successful thus recording securing 76.70 pass percentage.  Of the 23606 boys, 17819 have qualified the test thus recording the overall pass percentage of 75.49 percent.

An official document of BOSE revealed that 213 boys have failed while 5574 have reappears. However, girls have only registered 152 failures and 5206 reappears. Of total students, 10408 got distinctions while 15684, 7756, 1606 secured first second and third divisions respectively.

People faced a lot of inconvenience in confirming the results because of the internet blockade. An official of Education Department said that gazettes were not available in any of the higher secondary schools.

“The cargo service is suspended because of the security reasons ahead of January 26. Result is available on official website of BOSE. It can also be confirmed through SMS,” he added.  

Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Sonwar, said that he could not confirm the result of his son for about two hours. “I went to Higher Secondary School, Jawahar Nagar to confirm the result, but little did I know that the schools were not provided gazettes. Later I called up my friend outside the valley to confirm the result of my son,” he said.

 Riyaz Ahmad, Secretary BOSE said they have provided results to everyone through SMS and gazette were shared through Shareit App to hundreds of people. “Gazette will be available in all higher secondary schools a day late,” he added.

Director School Education, Dr Younis Malik said this year the result is quite good. “I congratulate all the students who worked hard in unprecedented conditions and appeared in the annul examinations,” he said.

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Rs 4 crore released for strengthening power infrastructure in Srinagar

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 16: The Srinagar administration Thursday released Rs 4 crore to the Power Development Department for strengthening power distribution network in various areas of the district.

The funding was released for creation of new sub-stations and augmentation of existing ones at various places across the district.

The new sub-stations which include a total number of 30 are being set up at an aggregate cost of over Rs 2 crore. Most of these also include setting up of HT and LT networks.

 

The funding has been provided under the Special Area Development Programme of Government of India.

Deputy Commissioner Srinagar Dr Shahid Iqbal Choudhary said that in addition to creation of new sub-stations the existing infrastructure of divisional workshops of electric divisions 1st and 4th are also being upgraded.

The upgradation of these divisional workshops includes installation of modern electro-mechanical facilities aimed at enabling faster repair of damaged transformers. It is being done at an aggregate cost of Rs 1.5 crore.

The DC said these divisions have also been provided an additional Rs 30 Lakh for enhancing buffer stock of transformers utilised during times of damages to existing sub-stations.

The funding also provides for augmentation of existing sub-stations and reclamation of damaged transformers in the electric division 4th which caters to old city areas of the district. It also provides for installation of a 63 KVA power generator at Peer Dastageer Sahib shrine.

Dr Shahid said the power infrastructure is being strengthened across the district adding that deficits and requirements of upgradations are being taken care of wherever required.

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ACB arrests NC leader’s son over alleged bank fraud

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jan 16: The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday arrested Hilal Rather, son of National Conference leader and former finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather, in a bank fraud case involving Rs 177 core.

“Hilal Rather was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) Jammu today in a case related to the alleged misappropriation of crores of rupees from the term loans running into Rs 177 Crores sanctioned by Jammu and Kashmir Bank for his ambitious township project known as Paradise Avenue at Narwal Bala Jammu in the year 2012,” an ACB spokesman said.

Hilal”s father Abdul Rahim Rather was the finance minister of the erstwhile state in 2012 when the loan was taken from the bank.

 

According to the official statement, “ the  investigation conducted by the Bureau has revealed that Paradise Avenue, a Partnership Concern of Hilal Rather, Dr Rizwan Raheem Dar of Sanant Nagar Srinagar, Ghulam Mohd Bhatt of Baramulla Kashmir, Daljeet Wadhera and Smt. Deepshikha Jamwal of Jammu was sanctioned a term loan of Rs 74.27 crores in the first phase and in relaxation to the credit policy of the bank which restricts loan to a partnership firm at Rs 40 crores and the loan was approved by the Board of Directors of the J&K Bank when Hilal Rather despite the fact that he had already entered into a OTS with the State Financial Corporation in the past. The remaining loan amount were granted by the Board despite the fact that the repayments of the first loan taken  was not complete”.      

Hilal Rather, who also owns Simula Group of Companies, was being questioned for the last few months by the Bureau in connection with the siphoning off crores of rupees from the  loan amount sanctioned by the New University Campus Branch of J&K Bank for the construction of Flats under the name of Paradise Avenue.

He has been evading details of property raised & others transaction related to siphoning of funds meant for construction.

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