Srinagar, July 15: Supreme Court of India on Thursday permitted Attorney General for India to file reply affidavit within a week’s time to a contempt petition regarding 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir.
A bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai passed the order Attorney General K.K. Venugopal undertook to file reply affidavit to the contempt petition within a week’s time.
“He is permitted to do so. List the matters after one week,” the apex court said, according to an order, a copy of which lies with GNS.
Earlier the Court was convened through Video Conferencing. Senior counsel Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner—Foundation for Media Professionals, while Attorney General for India appearing for the centre and Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General appeared for Jammu & Kashmir.
The top court was informed by the governments that a special committee has been set up as per the court’s directive on the issue of restoration of 4G internet services in J&K.
The Attorney General K K Venugopal stated that the incidents of militancy were on the rise there and submitted that no contempt was made out against the authorities as they have complied with the directions passed on May 11. The apex court had ordered setting up of a special committee headed by the Union Home Secretary to consider pleas for restoration of 4G internet services in J&K which continue to remain affected since August 5. The top court had observed that national security and human rights need to be balanced in view of the fact that the J&K has been “plagued with militancy”.
The apex court was hearing a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the Union Home Secretary and JK’s Chief Secretary for their alleged “wilful disobedience” in complying with the court’s May 11 order.
On July 9, the J&K authorities extended the ban on high-speed internet services in J&K till July 29.
As per the order by Home department, the restrictions on access to internet services have been put in place to “curb misuse of data for uploading, downloading, circulation of provocative content on the social media and prevent or reduce rumor mongering and fake news, counter attempts of recruiting gullible youth into the militants’ ranks”.
The 2G internet services are also put in place to curtail the use of encrypted messaging and VOIP services for infiltration and coordinating militant activities, and “defeat the nefarious designs from across the border to propagate (militancy).”
“The security agencies have been successful in eliminating a large number of (militants) while ensuring that the public order is maintained primarily because the data services have not been allowed to be misused by the anti-social elements, OGWs to mobilize crowds,” the order said, adding, “Besides, these restrictions have not adversely impacted the efforts of the Government towards COVID control, education and business activities.”