Shaleen Kabra, IAS, Principal Secretary to the Government of J&K issued an order dated 03.04.2020 stating that the internet speed restrictions as imposed earlier shall continue till April 15. The move comes with a view to maintain public order and security in the J&K. It invokes section 5(2) of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885; and Rule 2(1) of the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services (Public Emergency or Public Safety) Rules, 2017.
The order mentions the various instances of violence in the J&K. Backing the decision, the order states that terrorism is encouraged through the uploading of proactive videos and other materials. It goes on to state, “The internet speed restrictions have, while enabling access to essential services and sites, not posed any hindrance to COVID-19 control measures or to access online educational content”. The order recognizes that internet speed restrictions have served their purpose by checking the misuse of social media.
Interestingly, a PIL seeking restoration of high-speed internet services in the UT had been filed in the Supreme Court on 02.04.2020. The petition highlights the difficulties faced by citizens during the lockdown due to the slow internet speed. Although nothing can be ascertained at this point in time, the decision of the Supreme Court holds the power of overturning the order of the J&K Administration.