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Supreme Court of India. (Photo: Mint)
Supreme Court of India. (Photo: Mint)

Reply by Sunday on pleas for restoration of 4G services: SC to Centre, J&K

  • One of the petitioners said 4G service would provide access to a doctor and help save lives
  • About 2,200 schools are unable to hold classes and future of 27 lakh students are at stake, one of the pleas said

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court today asked the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file by Sunday replies on a batch of petitions that seek restoration of 4G internet services in the union territory amid the covid-19 pandemic.

An apex court bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana, fixed 27 April as the next date of hearing in the matter.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, representing one of the petitioners, said 4G service would provide access to a doctor and help save lives.

Ahmadi said students all over the country have started taking online classes, but students in Jammu and Kashmir are at an disadvantage due to the absence of 4G services.

Nearly 2,200 schools are unable to hold classes and the future of 27 lakh students are at stake, the plea said.

Attorney general KK Venugopal, opposing the restoration of the services said, "It's a question of national security." He cited a recent incident where 500 people showed up at the funeral of a militant.

The bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai, noting the urgency of the petition asked the Centre and J&K administration to take stock of the ground situation in the region and file a detailed affidavit by Sunday.

Another public interest litigation, filed by an organization Foundation for Media Professionals and challenging the government order of 26 March that restricted the internet speed to 2G, said such a directive violated constitutional provisions.

Restricting internet speed was unreasonable especially at a time when there is a global pandemic and a nationwide lockdown, it said.

The petitioner said doctors and patients were unable to access latest information, advisories, and guidelines. It was difficult to work from home and access the high court amid lack of internet speed.

In August last year, all modes of communications were suspended when the government scrapped the special status for Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370. Though they were partially restored, the internet speed was restricted to 2G.

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