No Social Media but Broadband Internet Restored in Kashmir after SC rap

On 10 January, the Supreme Court held that access to the internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution

New Delhi: On Wednesday Broadband internet services will be restored by phase in Jammu and Kashmir starting after more than five months of the communications clampdown put in place after the Central government scrapped Article 370, which provided some degree of autonomy to the then-state, on 5 August. The order by the Jammu and Kashmir administration comes days after the Supreme court directed it to review all the restrictions in the Union Territory.

According to reports, the administration will allow broadband internet facilities on “white-listed websites” in hospitals, banks, government offices, hotels, educational institutions, and tourism companies. The order by the administration also said that the 2G mobile connectivity on post-paid mobiles for accessing white-listed websites including e-banking will be opened in the district of Jammu, Samba, Kathua, and Reasi.

The home department in order had said that 400 additional internet kiosks will be established in the Kashmir division, reported by media.

The order said “Internet service providers will offer a broadband facility with Mac binding to all institutions dealing with essential services, hospitals, banks as also government offices,” the order added. Mac Binding means to enforce a client machine to work from a certain Internet Protocol address.

The report also suggests that in phases over the next 48 hours, broadband internet is also likely to be restored in the state of Kashmir. “In the beginning, it would be the turn of Central Kashmir including Srinagar, which will be followed by north Kashmir districts of Kupwara, Bandipora and Baramulla two days later. In South Kashmir Pulwama, Kulgam, Shopian and Anantnag come last, after another two days,”.

On 10 January, the Supreme Court held that access to the internet is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.

The Supreme court bench also held that internet shutdowns cannot be ordered to suppress speech unless there is instigation to violence or similar reasons. “The Section 144 orders must be assessed based on territorial reach, nature of restrictions and time period.”

The top court ordered the cut-off internet should be reviewed forthwith and that such cut-off can be only “for a limited time period”. It is also subject to judicial review, Justice Ramana said.

A five-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana also asked the administration to restore internet services in institutions providing necessary services like hospital and education institute.

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