The Home Department of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir has passed another Order, extending the restrictions on internet speed in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir till July 8, 2020.
The order passed by the Home Secretary of J&K Administration said that high speed net was likely to be used to coordinate and facilitate infiltration. It also mentioned that 2G speed hasn't impeded COVID-19 control, e-commerce or online education.
On May 11 Supreme Court had directed for the constitution of a "Special Committee", headed by the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs, to examine the issues that had been raised by the Petitioners in a plea which sought for restoration of 4G speed internet services in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Supreme Court had stated that:
"...we are of the view that since the issues involved affect the State, and the nation, the Review Committee which consists of only State level officers, may not be in a position to satisfactorily address all the issues raised."
Accordingly, a Special Committee was to be constituted, comprising of Secretaries at the State as well as the National level to "look into the prevailing circumstances and immediately determine the necessity of the continuation of the restrictions in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir".
Till date, the Special Committee has not been constituted. Citing this, the Foundation of Media Professionals, which was one of the petitioners in the SC seeking restoration of 4G services, has filed a contempt petition in the top court.
Internet speed restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir extended till July 8. Home Secretary's order says high speed net likely to be used to coordinate and facilitate infiltration. Adds, 2G speed hasn't impeded COVID-19 control, e-commerce or online education.#JammuAndKashmir pic.twitter.com/WTtrwGKQJj— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) June 17, 2020
The Central government had imposed a complete communications blackout in the erstwhile state of J&K in August 2019, right after abrogation of Article 370. Five months later in January 2020, on the basis of a Supreme Court order, the services were partially restored, only at 2G speed for mobile users. Access was provided only to a selected "white-listed" sites, and social media was completely blocked.
The Supreme Court had observed that indefinite suspension of internet is not permissible and restrictions on internet have to follow the principles of proportionality under Article 19(2).
The blockade on social media was lifted on March 4, but the speed was retained as 2G for mobile data.