New Delhi, April 9: The Supreme Court asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir administration on Thursday to respond to a plea seeking directions to them to restore 4G internet in the Union Territory in view of the prevailing Covid-19 pandemic.
A bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai issued notices to them and sought their reply within a week on the plea filed by ‘Foundation for Media Professionals’ which has assailed an order of the J&K administration on March 26 that restricted to the internet speed to 2G only in the UT, PTI reproted.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner, contended that in view of the ongoing lockdown it is very necessary to enhance the technology and connectivity in the Union Territory.
He said the virtual classes of students, whose schools are shut due to the lockdown, can only be done through enhancement of technology and better connectivity.
The bench said it is issuing notice which may be served through e-mail on standing counsel of the Jammu and Kashmir administration and the Centre.
The plea filed through advocate Shadan Farasat, while seeking restoration of 4G internet services, alleged that the action of the government was violative of Articles 14 (right to equality), 19 (freedom of speech) and 21 (right to life) of the Constitution.
Terming 2G telephone services as “outdated”, the plea said 4G internet speed would be useful in ensuring information flow to the citizens in view of the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
The plea said it wanted to ensure flow of information to citizens during these “extraordinary times when the number of cases of Coronavirus Disease in Jammu and Kashmir has already reached 33, with 2 reported deaths”.
“In these conditions — a pandemic and a lock-down – the restriction of mobile internet speeds to 2G only is completely unreasonable, illegal, and unconstitutional for the following reasons,” the petition said.
The right to health is a composite right which requires the state to take active measures to ensure the presence of necessary physical, and, by extension, digital, infrastructure and a well-functioning internet, especially in times of an epidemic such as Covid-19, is an essential part of this digital infrastructure that is required to make this right an effective reality, it said.
The slow internet speed also renders telemedicine or online video consultation impossible, it added.