NEW DELHI: The Indian Supreme Court on Monday reserved its verdict on the pleas seeking restoration of high-speed internet in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K).
The pleas sought restoration of high-speed internet in the occupied region particularly to enable access to healthcare services and online education during Covid-19 lockdown.
A three-member bench of the apex court, comprising N V Ramana, Surya Kant and B R Gavai, after hearing the arguments from the government and petitioners’ side reserved the verdict.
Reserved decision is a legal term which judges employ to deliver a decision at a later time after reviewing evidence and arguments from all parties involved.
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The region has so far reported 701 coronavirus cases and eight deaths.
The government told the court that it has become necessary to restrict the internet to stop "militancy". However, the petitioners rebutted the claim, saying during 1990's, violence was at its peak in the region and there was no internet at all during that time.
"It is for the government to explain how internet restriction is justified. The court cannot mechanically defer to the government's statement that the restriction is justified,” said Huzefa Ahmadi, a petitioner’s counsel.
Previously, the puppet Jammu and Kashmir government in response to the pleas had submitted a reply to the court, saying the Internet access is not a fundamental right.
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On August 5 last year, New Delhi revoked IOJ&K's special status and imposed severe restrictions including curfew and communication blockade.
High-speed internet since then has remained blocked in the region, although Amnesty International and the UN human rights body called for lifting of restrictions in the region in view of the current pandemic crisis.
As of now, the ban on high-speed internet has been extended till May 11 in the region.