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Come up with final stand on 4G services in J&K by 11 August, SC tells central govt and UT

The Supreme Court also asked both the central govt and J&K administration to explore possibilities of restoring 4G network in some areas.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday asked the Narendra Modi government and the Jammu and Kashmir administration to come up with a definite and final stand on resumption of 4G internet services in the union territory by 11 August.

Hearing a contempt petition filed by an NGO, the court also asked both to explore possibilities of restoring the network in some areas in the region.

“There is no question of further adjournment,” a special three-judge bench led by Justice N.V. Ramana told solicitor general Tushar Mehta, as it fixed the next date of hearing in the case on 11 August.

The move came after Mehta, who was appearing for the J&K administration, sought more time to clarify former Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu’s statement to the media on his recommendation to resume 4G connectivity in the UT.

Mehta said the L-G resigned Thursday and he required time to get instructions on it and file a response.

What the contempt case is

The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by NGO Foundation for Media Professionals (FMP) against the central government and the J&K administration for non-compliance of SC order to constitute a three-member high-powered committee to look into the issue of restoring 4G services in J&K.

In an affidavit filed on 21 July, the Modi government had denied the allegations, submitting that the panel set up in accordance with the 11 May judgment decided against resuming the 4G services.

During the last hearing in the case on 28 July, the petitioner had relied upon Murmu’s interview to a national daily in which the L-G said he advocated restoration of high-speed internet connectivity in J&K.

The Centre took time until the latest hearing to verify the media reports. “The earlier L-G gave a press interview. Now the LG has been changed. We need time to get instructions and file a response,” Mehta told the bench Friday.

To this, the bench said: “We want to know the basis for the decision (ban)? Is there a possibility that in some areas it can restored? We cannot say what is happening on the ground but is there anything that can be done?”

Also read: Why Modi govt chose trusted BJP leader Manoj Sinha to replace IAS veteran Murmu as J&K L-G

‘Wait for two more days’

The petitioner opposed Mehta’s request for an adjournment.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for the FMP, said Mehta had sought time to go through his client’s response to the Centre’s 21 July affidavit in the last hearing too. “They want time again,” he submitted.

The bench, however, reminded Ahmadi that the petitioner had quoted the L-G the last time.

“Now, the governor has changed. You have waited for this so long, wait for two more days. We need to see what the government has to say. Then we will see if there is any contempt or not,” the bench said.

What Mehta said

Mehta opposed the petitioner’s demand for contempt action against senior civil servants.

He asserted that the panel was indeed set up as directed by the court. He added that the panel reviewed the ground situation in the UT before giving its opinion to continue with the ban on 4G services.

Also read: What helped Manoj Sinha, a low-profile UP politician & Kishore Kumar fan, land J&K L-G post

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