Access to internet not fundamental right, can't provide 4G, J&K tells SC
New Delhi, April 29 - The Jammu and Kashmir government has informed the Supreme Court that 2G internet is sufficient to download e-learning apps and to browse video lectures as it contended that the right to access the internet is not a fundamental right and the right to carry on any trade or business through the medium of internet can be curtailed.
The J&K administration, through an affidavit, sought dismissal of a plea seeking restoration of 4G services, insisting that high-speed internet will enable the spread of fake news/rumours and transfer of heavy data files (audio/video files) will become prevalent and may be utilised by terror outfits for incitement as also in planning attacks.
The administration, insisting on 2G services for e-learning activities, said e-learning apps are easily downloadable and the video lectures can be browsed without any issue over 2G internet. "Similarly, all the education/e-learning websites of the government of India/J&K Government are accessible over 2G internet for downloading e-books of NCERT and JKBOSE, teaching videos have been uploaded on social networking system and J&K knowledge Network (JKNN)," said the affidavit.
The J&K administration said 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 through the medium of internet can be curtailed.
"It is submitted that 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," said the affidavit.
"It is submitted that the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the state, public order or incitement to an offence, would certainly warrant curtailing the freedom of speech and expression, under Article 19(2). Likewise, the right to carry on any trade or business can be restricted in the interest of the general public under Article 19(6) of our Constitution," said the affidavit.
The affidavit said social media/messaging platforms like Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. can be used effectively by the people in J&K, over 2G internet, to communicate the shortage of any essential/important commodity to the government and its representatives and this mechanism of reporting is functional in all the districts of the UT of J&K.
"Complaint redressal mechanism is in place and the speed of 2G internet is sufficient to send emails and complaints to the concerned authorities for their redressal," it added.