STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: A special committee looking into the issue of restoring the high speed internet has decided to give relaxation from 2G to 4G on a trial basis in one district each in the Jammu and Kashmir divisions after August 15, the Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court.It said the special committee was also of the view that the present situation could permit a carefully calibrated easing of some restrictions in limited and specified geographical areas which are comparatively less sensitive from a national security, internal security, border security and public order standpoint, subject to strict monitoring and periodical review.The high speed internet services in Jammu and Kashmir were suspended in August last year when the Centre announced revocation of its special status and bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories (UTs) — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.A bench headed by Justice N V Ramana was informed by Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for Centre, that the committee which held its meeting on August 10, was of the considered view that the threat perception on the security front in Jammu and Kashmir continues to be high.He said the committee was of the view that for the present time access to the high speed internet could be provided on a trial basis in a calibrated manner in specified limited areas to assess the impact on the security scenario.The relaxation from 2G to 4G should be limited for the present to one district each in the Jammu Division and Kashmir Division, so that both regions of the UT are covered, he said, reading from the affidavit filed in the contempt plea filed by an NGO for the restoration of the 4G internet services.Venugopal said, keeping in view the heightened threat perception, these relaxations would come into effect after August 15, 2020 .The bench took the affidavit on record and appreciated the stand taken by the respondents (Centre and J-K administration) and said, We find there is no case made out to proceed further in this contempt petition, and the same is accordingly closed.The Centre’s stand which was recorded by the apex court’s in its order said the committee was also of the view that the internet speed related restrictions are not posing any hindrance to COVID control measures, access to education programmes or carrying out business activities.Any opening on a trial basis should not be in any area adjoining the international Border/Line of Control (LoC), the order said, adding that the trials of high speed internet should be in the area, which have low intensity of terrorist activities and minimal spillover effects on neighbouring areas.It added the impact of the trial should be assessed by the State Level Committee periodically but at least once in seven working days.The Central Committee will review the outcome of the trial after a period of two months or before that if so required, the Centre said in its affidavit.It said the Committee was of the view that given the current security scenario, both in Jammu and Kashmir and in the surrounding areas, the overall situation is still not conducive to lift the limited restrictions on high speed internet through mobile devices whilst allowing broadband and 2G across the board.During the hearing, Venugopal said in view of the fact that the Committee has been duly constituted which has weighed each and every relevant factor, no case of contempt is made out whatsoever.He said that by no stretch of imagination can it be suggested that the Committee or the Centre has shown any wilful disobedience of any judgment of this Court.Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner NGO, Foundation for Media Professionals’, said this was a step forward but still some concern remains.He raised the issue of publication and bringing in public domain the special committee’s orders as also its periodic reviews and said he was not pressing for contempt in view of the Attorney General’s submissions.
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