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Attorney General (AG) KK Venugopal has submitted to the Supreme Court on August 11 that the Special Committee formed for the purpose of considering restoration of 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir has opined that the situation is not yet conducive for complete restoration. This submission was made before a bench headed by Justice NV Ramana during a hearing of the contempt petition filed by Foundation for Media Professionals which was one of the petitioners in the case seeking restoration of 4G in the Union Territory.
The contempt petition was filed alleging that the government had failed to set up a Special Committee led by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) secretary to review the situation and consider the alternatives suggested by the petitioners, as directed by the Supreme Court in its May 11 judgment.
Legal news website LiveLaw reported that the AG submitted that a meeting of the Special Committee had taken place on August 10, a day before the hearing, and had concluded that the threat perception continued to be high in the UT and was hence not conducive for restoration of 4G internet services. However, a calibrated view was taken that internet services could be restored on a trial basis. “The committee has also stated that high speed internet could be restored in certain areas with strict monitoring. The area should have low threshold of terrorist activities,” submitted the AG.
He further submitted that trial basis meant restoration of 4G internet in one district each in Jammu region and Kashmir region after August 15, which will be monitored by the Committee over a period of 7 days and will review the situation in 2 months.
Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner raised some concerns, “This is definitely a step forward. Certain concerns, however, remain. The aspects of non-compliance have been brought out by me. Issues with regard to non-publication of orders also remain. Your lordships may adjourn these proceedings for a month forward, I won’t press the contempt. Let’s see how things go”.
Ahmadi pushed for keeping the proceedings in the Interlocutory Applications to be kept pending despite Justice Ramana’s insistence that the issue of non-publication of orders would be taken care of.
Hence, Justice Ramana addressed Ahmadi’s concern that the review orders were not in the public domain and directed respondents to file a reply to the IA within 2 weeks.
At the last hearing, Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner, informed the court that the Lt. Governor of Jammu and Kashmir was of the opinion that 4G internet should be restored. The Centre had then stated that it needed to verify these statements. Last week, the Lt. Governor Girish Chandra Murmu, former IAS officer submitted his resignation and BJP leader Manoj Sinha was picked for the position.
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