Youth surfing internet in Srinagar. (File image: PTI)
NEW DELHI: The Union government told the Supreme Court on Tuesday that the persisting terror threat in
Jammu and Kashmir
would not allow resumption of 4G internet services in the Union Territory but agreed to provide high-speed internet in one district each in Jammu and Kashmir divisions on a trial basis after August 15.
Attorney general K K Venugopal and solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre and the J&K administration, told a bench of Justices N V Ramana, R S Reddy and B R Gavai that the two districts would be chosen based on "low intensity of terrorist activities and with minimal spillover effects on
". The AG said faster internet services would not be provided on trial basis in districts adjoining the international border or
the Line of Control
Official sources said that initially, 4G internet would be restored in Kupwara and Jammu districts.
This decision was taken by the high-powered committee headed by the Union home secretary on Monday after taking into account the views expressed by the
and local agencies in the UT while keeping in mind the security of the nation, border security and public safety.
"The threat perception on the security front in J&K continues to be high. Internet speed related restrictions are not posing any hindrance to Covid-19 control measures, access to education programmes or carrying out business activities," the Centre said in its affidavit.
"The committee was of the view that there is adequate access to the internet through broadband services available over landline to business and healthcare institutions. The committee was of the considered view that given the current security scenario, both in Jammu and Kashmir and in surrounding areas, the overall situation is still not conducive for lifting the limited restrictions on high speed internet through mobile devices whilst allowing broadband and 2G services across the board," the Centre said.
The stance against resumption of 4G services came against the backdrop of reported remarks of the former J&K LG that the government could consider lifting the ban — a statement that had engaged the attention of the apex court.
The bench headed by Justice Ramana, finding that the committee had met several times as per its judgment on May 11, closed proceedings on the contempt petition filed by NGO ‘Foundation for Media Professionals’. "We find there is no case made out to proceed further in this contempt petition, and the same is accordingly closed," the bench said.
Appearing for the NGO, senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi said the Centre's stand appeared to be a step forward and he would not press for contempt proceedings. However, both the AG and the SG said no contempt was committed by the Centre and that the SC’s May 11 order was implemented in letter and spirit.
(With inputs from M Saleem Pandit)