10 May 2020 1:36 PM GMT
The Supreme Court will pronounce orders tomorrow in petitions challenging the orders passed by the Jammu and Kashmir government to restrict the internet speed in the region at 2G during the lockdown. A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana had reserved orders on May 4 on the petitions filed by Foundation of Media Professionals, Private Schools Association of J&K and...
A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana had reserved orders on May 4 on the petitions filed by Foundation of Media Professionals, Private Schools Association of J&K and Soayib Qureshi.
The petitioners contended that speed restriction on internet in the region amidst the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in disproportionate infringement of the right to access internet. As a result of the speed curbs, doctors were finding it difficult to render online medical services. Online education has also been disrupted due to the speed limits, the petitioners added.
Lack of 4G net made right to internet illusory and dismantled the fundamental rights to access health services and education, they contended.
The Centre and the J&K administration justified the restrictions by citing the threat of terrorism.
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.
After that, the J&K Administration passed several orders from time to time, retaining the speed restrictions. As per the latest order passed on April 27, the restrictions have been extended till May 11.
The administration stated that the speed restrictions have not affected COVID-19 control measures and online education.
Click here to read the report about oral arguments on May 4.
Click here to read the written submissions of parties.