The Supreme Court Monday ordered setting up of a high-level committee to look into the demands of restoring 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir. Stating that there needs to be a balance between human rights and national security, the apex court directed the MHA secretary to examine the committee.
A plea was filed by ‘Foundation for Media Professionals’ had sought sought restoration of high-speed internet in Jammu and Kashmir in view of the COVID-19 situation. The J&K administration, however, sought dismissal of the plea, insisting that high-speed internet will enable the spread of fake news/rumours and transfer of heavy data files (audio/video files) will become prevalent and may be utilised by terror outfits for incitement as also in planning attacks.
In the earlier hearing, senior Advocate H Ahmadi, appearing for Foundation for Media Professionals, said non-availability of 4G services is affecting people’s right to health and education. Internet at 4G speed was needed for those wanting to consult doctors online so that crowding can be avoided in hospitals, he said and pointed out that online hearing of cases by courts would be impossible without 4G speed. Also, schools across the country have now shifted to online classes in view of the lockdown to make sure that students don’t lose their lessons, he said and added that lack of the 4G internet puts J&K students at a disadvantage.
The SC had in its judgment dated January 10, 2020 said that the freedom of speech and expression, and the freedom of trade and commerce through the internet are fundamental right under the Constitution and as such cannot be curtailed without following the mandate of the Constitution and should meet the test of proportionality.
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