4G in J&K: Plea filed in SC for contempt action

4G in J&K: Plea filed in SC for contempt action on failure to comply with court order

A plea has been filed in Supreme Court seeking contempt action against top officers for "willful failure" to comply with the order for setting up a special committee “immediately" to determine the necessity of continued restriction of mobile internet speeds in Jammu and Kashmir to 2G only. 

The petition filed by Foundation for Media Professionals sought action against Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs and Chief Secretary of Jammu and Kashmir also for violating the judgement on May 11, 2020.

The contempt petition has been drafted with assistance by advocates Vrinda Bhandari and Apar Gupta and Devdutta Mukhopadhaya of the Internet Freedom Foundation. 

They pointed out the special committee, separate from the review committee, prescribed under the Telecom Suspension Rules, had to consider the alternatives and determine whether 3G or 4G internet could be provided to certain regions in Jammu and Kashmir on a trial basis.

"Despite the directions of the court, no such committee seems to have been constituted, and no order has been published by them, reviewing the orders on continued 2G restrictions," the plea said. 

The FMP claimed that it had sent two representations but it did not receive any response or acknowledgement.

The petitioner also filed a separate application for bringing on record subsequent orders issued by the Jammu and Kashmir administration under the Temporary Telecom Suspension Rules 2017 after the Supreme Court delivered its judgement on 11 May 2020. 

"Even after the Supreme Court's clarification that restrictions on internet access must be temporally and territorially limited to what is absolutely necessary, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has directed internet service providers to slow down mobile internet speed to 2G in all districts without providing any specific reasons," it said. 

The petitioner also questioned the government's assertion that internet speed restrictions have not hindered Covid-19 control measures and access to online resources.

Besides, it said, "Restoration of 4G internet services is a broad based demand which has been endorsed by Ram Madhav, National General Secretary of BJP as well, and a statement by Amit Shah, Minister of Home Affairs about Jammu and Kashmir experiencing lowest incidents of terrorism since 1990 after the abrogation of Article 370."

The petitioner sought a direction to notify the special committee within three working days and for the Special Committee to determine the issue in three working days.