Restoration of 4G: SC seeks Govt reply by Apr 27

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to file their responses by April 27 on a plea seeking restoration of 4G internet services in the Union territory in view of prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.

The top court was told that due to non-availability of 4G services, several aspects are affected including medical facilities and education services.

The Centre opposed the plea by telling the apex court that it is a question of national security as militancy still poses a serious threat in Jammu and Kashmir and cited a recent incident where hundreds of people gathered in the valley for a funeral of a militant killed by security forces.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai asked Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Jammu and Kashmir administration, to file detailed reply on affidavits by April 27 after assessing the ground situation.

At the outset, the bench enquired from the parties about the status of a 4G services related case, which was taken suo motu (on its own) by the Jammu and Kashmir High Court. Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for petitioner — ‘Foundation for Media Professionals’– said that his petition concerns only with restoration of 4G services in Jammu and Kashmir. He informed the bench that in the suo motu case taken by the High Court, notice has been issued and it deals with whole gamut of matters in which 4G internet services is one of the issue.

He elaborated the need for 4G services and said for effective video conferencing facility to consult doctors in case of any health emergency, it was the need of the hour.

The senior advocate said that having access to 4G services and being able to consult doctors in time would help in saving lives. He added that the second aspect is of educations as without 4G internet services, schools are facing problems in holding virtual classes for the students during the lockdown period.

The bench, then asked Ahmadi as how many Covid-19 cases are there in Jammu and Kashmir as of now. The senior advocate replied, as of now around 354 cases have been reported. Mehta said he needs a week time to file a reply to the petition.