NEW DELHI, Aug 7: The Supreme Court on Friday gave four days to the Jammu and Kashmir administration to restore the 4G mobile and internet services at least in certain areas of the Union Territory that are lying shut since August 5 last year and fixed the next hearing on Tuesday.
It was hearing a contempt petition of Foundation for Media Professionals, run by veteran Gurgaon-based veteran journalist Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, seeking action against authorities for not complying with the apex court’s direction on May 11 on restoration of 4G internet services.
A Bench of Justices N V Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai debunked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta seeking time on behalf of the J&K administration to take instructions from new LT Governor Manoj Sinha who has been just appointed. It said nothing changes from the change of the LG as the issue is to be looked into by the high-powered committee. The solicitor general, however, insisted that he needs to take instructions from the new LG who has taken over only on Friday.
It also told Mehta that no further adjournments be allowed and he better take instructions in the matter after senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi appearing for the petitioner drew the Court’s attention that the respondents are repeatedly seeking time instead of abiding by its direction.
Mehta denied any intention to delay the issue, claiming that the court’s order has been complied with in letter and spirit and he would take instructions to expedite the matter.
The Bench also asked him to explain as to basis under which the previous LG, G C Murmuru, had said that the 4G services can be restored. It said strictly speaking, the matter can be disposed of but the court needs to see under what circumstances that statement was made by then LG.
Murmu’s statement had come on the heels of both the Centre and J&K administration telling the court that the prevailing security circumstances do not allow them to restore the 4G services.
The Jammu and Kashmir administration sought time to take instructions on the restoration of high speed internet service, saying a new Lt Governor has been appointed in the Union Territory.
Manoj Sinha has been appointed the new LG of Jammu and Kashmir after G C Murmu resigned from the post.
High speed Internet service in J&K has been suspended since August last year when the Centre had announced revocation of its special status and bifurcation of the state into two UTs — Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.
The top court told the administration that with the change of LG, nothing changes as the special committee is there to look into the issue.
Mehta said that there is no intention to delay the issue as the top court’s order has been complied with in letter and spirit and he would take instructions.
The bench told Mehta that he has to explain under what circumstances the LG had reportedly said that the 4G internet service can be restored and what was the basis of that statement by the LG.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the petitioner NGO raised the issue of time sought by the respondents repeatedly in the matter.
The bench told Ahmadi that he must also be aware about the changes and asked him to wait for two more days.
It said that strictly speaking, the matter can be disposed of but the court needs to see under what circumstances that statement was reportedly made (by the LG).
On July 28, the Centre and the J-K administration had told the top court that it will verify reported statements made by the Lt Governor of Jammu and Kashmir and BJP leader Ram Madhav that 4G Internet service can be restored in the Union Territory, and sought time to file a reply to the rejoinder affidavit filed by an NGO. A contempt plea has been filed by an NGO Foundation for Media Professionals seeking action against authorities for not complying with the apex court’s direction on restoration of 4G internet services.__Kashmir Times