Defending the ban of 4G internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, the administration on Wednesday said that right to access to internet is not a fundamental right. Submitting its response in the Supreme Court on the plea filed by Foundation for Media Professionals seeking restoration of 4G internet services in the union territory, the JK administration also added that internet is an enabler of rights and not a right in itself and that the present 2G speed of internet does enable one to create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge.
"It is submitted that the right to access the internet is not a fundamental right and thus the type and breadth of access for exercising the right to freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a) and/or to carry on any trade or business under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India through the medium of the internet can be curtailed," the 35-page affidavit filed by the Jammu and Kashmir administration said.
"It is submitted that internet is an enabler of rights and not a right in itself and that the present 2G speed of internet does enable one to create, access, utilize and share information and knowledge," it added.
Centre has not yet restored 4G internet services in J-K and had provided 2G services after apex court's January 10 order asking it to review all orders of suspension.
The J-K administration opines that 4G services are used to circulate provocative and false videos, messages in no time, thus, disturbing the law and order situation in the valley. "Internet is being used to support fallacious proxy wars by raising money, recruiting and spreading propaganda/ideologies and prevalence of internet provides an easy inroad to young impressionable minds," it said in its affidavit.
In its affidavit, J-K has also named Pakistan and its attempt to create disbalance in the valley. "Pakistan-based terrorism handlers like TRF and TMI, instigating youth to join terrorism, are using messaging applications to communicate as also to raise the morale of terrorists; however, 2G mobile data services considerably restrict the use of such applications." It has also given details about 108 terrorism-related incidents took place with 99 incidents being reported from Kashmir province, while nine others from Jammu province.
"The misuse of data services, applications like WhatsApp and Facebook for mobilising crowds by anti-national elements has the potential to cause large-scale violence, disturb public order and indeed threaten the security of the country," the affidavit added.
Quashing the claims of the petitioner that during the Covid 19 pandemic and the demands by various local politicians including former chief ministers - Mehbooba Mufti, Omar Abdullah and Farooq Abdullah, J-K administration claimed that it is taking all possible steps to ensure that minimum inconvenience is caused to citizens while keeping the vital issues of national security and internal security as a paramount consideration. "It is submitted that the administrative authorities concerned are the best suited to assess and handle the situation depending upon the peculiar needs and facts brought within their special knowledge," the affidavit said.