SC RESERVES ORDER TO DETERMINE BALANCE OF CONCERNS IN PLEA TO RESTORE 4G IN J&K
The Supreme Court Bench comprising of Justices NV Ramana, SK Kaul and BR Gavai reserved its judgment on Monday, after hearing both sides ofthe PILs filed by Foundation for Media Professionals, Association of Private Schools in J&Kand others, seeking restoration of high-speed 4G Internet connectivity in Jammu and Kashmir.
The crucial concern raised by the counsel for petitioners - Advocates Huzefa Ahmadi and Salman Khurshid was the alarming escalation of Covid infected patients to over a 700 and the seeming violation of Article 21, as the denial of 4G connectivity is restraining the population from consulting internet doctors – the only viable option in these pandemic-stricken times.These arguments citing the inability to access telemedicine or even AarogyaSetu App, were countered by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asserting that all health facilities were functioning. “There is no information that someone has died of COVID-19 because they didn't have internet access”, he said.
The Government directions have obligated the private schools to provide online classes, which remains impossible in this situation, as stated by the petitioners. Attorney General KK Venugopal submitted against it, referring to the Handwaramilitant encounter on Saturday,that Internet could enflame militant propaganda through circulation of fake sensitive content, unlike the traceable landlines that are available now. Advocate Soayib Qureshi suggested banning of social media sites alone for preventing such online dissemination.
The step-by-step administrative actions are reasoned on the need to preserve national security and this do not invite interference of the judiciary, as claimed by the Centre and J&K Administration. However, the nexus between militancy and Internet connectivity was questioned by the petitioners on the ground that terrorism has occurred even in the absence of latter.
Justice Gavai remarked that this involves a legal question of balance between health and security concerns. The Bench ensured consideration of all issues raised and requirement of no further materials.