J&K govt orders 2G to continue, just when PIL seeking 4G internet is pending before SC

The order states that 2G internet will continue in the UT until April 15

InternetImage Courtesy: livelaw.in

The Home Department of Jammu and Kashmir has released an order which states that the restrictions on mobile internet speed which limit it to 2G speed, are here to stay until April 15, unless modified earlier. The order states that the restrictions which have been in place since January and a later order of March, have not posed any hindrance to COVID19 measures or to the access of educational content in the Union Territory (UT).

The order highlights that there is still potential to exploit the internet in the region by way of encouraging terrorism through uploading of provocative material, thus indicating the importance of the restrictions on the internet speed.

The timing of this order is curious given how a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) has been filed by the Foundation for Media Professionals in the apex court seeking restoration of 4G mobile internet services in Jammu and Kashmir. This PIL challenges the government’s decision to restrict the internet speed to 2G as being violative of Articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (freedom of speech), 21 (right to life) and 21A (right to education) of the Indian Constitution.

The petition had highlighted the various hardships faced by the people of the UT due to lack of availability of 4G internet such as difficulties faced by health care workers in accessing manuals advisories, latest updates on COVID29, difficulty in conducting online classes for the education sector as well as difficulty faced by litigants as they cannot approach the court virtually.

The fresh order dated April 3 has come into effect from April 4 and will remain in effect until April 15. This may have affected the viability of the PIL filed in the Supreme Court as, even though it does not override the previous order of March, this fresh order is time bound and insists that status quo be maintained.

The PIL has not yet been taken up by the Supreme Court for hearing.

The J & K order can be read here


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