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Monday, September 21, 2020

Murmu backed 4G; J&K tells top court: New L-G in, need to check

On July 28, the bench had asked the SG to clarify a reported statement of the then J&K Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu favouring the restoration of 4G in Kashmir.

Written by Ananthakrishnan G | New Delhi | Updated: August 8, 2020 7:53:57 am
Murmu backed 4G; J&K tells top court: New L-G in, need to check The Indian Express had reported on July 26 that the J&K administration has told the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that it does not have any objection to restoring 4G internet services. (File)

The Supreme Court Friday asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to clarify its stance, by August 11, on requests for restoring 4G mobile internet services in the region.

A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta that there will be no more adjournment after that.

On July 28, the bench had asked the SG to clarify a reported statement of the then J&K Lieutenant Governor G C Murmu favouring the restoration of 4G in Kashmir.

Responding to this, Mehta told the Bench Friday that “the earlier LG gave a press interview. Now the L-G has been changed. We need time to get instructions and file a response”.

He added that the SC’s direction to constitute a committee to review the situation has been complied with and it had taken a decision which has been placed on record.

The bench then sought to know what’s the basis for the decision that has been taken.

“Is (it) possible that in some areas it can be restored?”, asked Justice Ramana. He quickly added: “We cannot say what is happening on the ground, but is there anything that can be done?”

The Indian Express had reported on July 26 that the J&K administration has told the Union Ministry of Home Affairs that it does not have any objection to restoring 4G internet services.

“We have been making (a) representation for this… I feel that 4G will not be a problem. I am not afraid (of) how people will use this. Pakistan will do its propaganda, whether it is 2G or 4G. It will always be there… But I don’t see an issue,” Murmu told The Indian Express last week.

This was a change in the earlier position taken by the J&K administration two months ago in May.

Murmu resigned as L-G August 5 and was appointed as the new Comptroller and Auditor General. He has been replaced by BJP leader and former Minister Manoj Sinha.

The SC bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai, was hearing a plea by NGO Foundation for Media Professionals seeking contempt proceedings against the government.

The NGO has claimed that the government did not comply with the court’s May 11 direction to constitute a special committee, under the Union Home Secretary, to “immediately determine the necessity of the continuation” of limiting mobile internet speed in the region.

Rejecting the NGO’s claims, the Centre said in an affidavit that the special committee met twice — on May 15 and June 10 — and decided against any further relaxation in restrictions on internet services, including 4G services, in the region for now.

Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the NGO said Friday, that the J&K administration is taking time in the matter. On the last date of hearing, they said they want to go through the rejoinder that petitioners have filed, he submitted.

This was objected to by the SG.

Intervening, the bench said: “We are not saying anything because you (petitioner) have relied on the statement of the (Lieutenant) Governor. Now (Lieutenant) Governor has changed. You have waited for this long. Wait two more days. We need to see what the government has to say. Then we will see if there is any contempt”.

The Court asked the SG to ensure that the Attorney General is also present on the next date of hearing to convey the Centre’s stand.

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