The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that high-speed 4G internet services will be restored on a trial basis in one district each of Jammu and Kashmir after August 15 for two months, Bar and Bench reported.
A bench of Justices NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai was hearing a contempt petition filed by a non-governmental organisation, challenging the blanket restrictions on high-speed internet and for alleged “wilful disobedience” in complying with the court’s May 11 order.
Attorney General KK Venugopal said a special committee constituted to look into the matter found that the security threat in the Valley continues to be high.
“Committee was of view that broadband access is available through landline for educational institutions and hospitals,” Venugopal told the court. “On trial basis to try out opening of high speed internet the special committee was of view that high speed can be relaxed in areas with less violence. The special committee will assesses impact in a calibrated manner. Special committee will review outcome of the trial and relaxation from 2G to 4G will be done in one district each of Jammu and Kashmir after August 15.”
Venugopal added that the relaxation will not be in any area adjoining the International Border or the Line of Control. “Areas will be those which have low intensity of terrorist activities,” he said.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, the counsel for the petitioners, said the decision was a “step forward” and asked the court to adjourn the matter for a month to assess the ground situation.
During the last hearing on August 7, the Supreme Court had asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to explore the possibility of restoring 4G internet services in certain areas.
Internet services were stopped in Jammu and Kashmir on August 5 last year after the Narendra Modi government revoked Article 370 and bifurcated the former state into two Union Territories. It was restored in phases in the second week of January. Last month, the ban on 4G internet was extended till August 19 as the administration cited security concerns and inputs of rise in “anti-national” activities as a reason. Currently, only 2G internet is allowed in the region.