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Why in news?

  • The Jammu and Kashmir government’s orders do not reveal any reason for making mobile 4G Internet inaccessible across the Union Territory (UT), the Supreme Court said in an order on 11th May 2020.
  • Besides, the government orders snipping the Internet speed to 2G were meant to operate for only a limited time.
  • Petitions were filed claiming that lack of access to high-speed Internet in J&K had crippled medical efforts to contain the COVID-19 contagion.
  • The government, on the other hand, maintained that high-speed Internet was a facilitator of terrorism in the UT.

Supreme Court’s Views on Internet Restrictions imposed by Centre in J&K

  • Although the present orders indicate that they have been passed for a limited period of time, they do not provide any reasons to reflect that all the districts of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir require the imposition of such restrictions.
  • However, it is to be taken into consideration that the Union Territory has been plagued with militancy.
  • The apex court appointed a special committee led by the Union Home Secretary to “immediately” determine the necessity of continuing the restrictions in J&K.
  • The court directed the panel to examine the “appropriateness” of the petitioners; suggestion to limit the Net restrictions to areas where it was necessary and allow faster Internet (3G or 4G) on a trial basis in certain geographical areas and advise the J&K government on it.

Judgement in the past: Anuradha Bhasin judgment

  • Anuradha Bhasin judgment of January 2020 dealt with the months’ long curfew imposed in J&K following the abrogation of Article 370.
  • The court had observed that the restrictions should not be disproportionate to the “emergent situation”.
  • The degree of restriction and the scope of the same, both territorially and temporally, must stand in relation to what is actually necessary to combat an emergent situation.
  • The Centre’s concerns of “continuous infiltration, foreign influence, violent extremism and issues of national integrity prevalent in J&K” was not discounted.
  • In such a sensitive case, the court had to “reasonably and defensibly” balance national security concerns and the rights of the citizens.

-Source: The Hindu

December 2023