The apex court heard the PIL seeking restoration of 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir given the COVID-19 outbreak on 09.04.2020. The PIL addresses the lack of access to the information given out by governmental authorities and the World Health Organization amid the global pandemic due to restricted internet speed. The plea claims violation of Article 14 (Right to equality), Article 19 (Right to Freedom), Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty), and Article 21A (Right to Education) of the Constitution of India.
A bench comprising of Justices N.V. Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy & B.R. Gavai heard the PIL and Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, Advocates Shadan Farasat and Apar Gupta appeared for the petitioners. The hearing was conducted via video-conferencing. The advocates for the petitioners pressed for enhancement of technology & connectivity in J&K. While none appeared on behalf of the respondents, the bench issued notices via emails, returnable within a week.
Subsequent to the filing of the PIL for restoration of 4G internet services, J&K administration issued an order continuing the restrictions on the internet speed until April 15, 2020. The order invoked 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.
In August 2019, the Government issued complete internet shutdown in J&K to curb the social unrest followed after the abrogation of Article 370. The Union Government restored the internet services partially in January 2020, in compliance with the apex court’s order in Anuradha Bhasin v. Union of India.