The Supreme Court today directed the Central government to constitute a "special committee" headed by the Union Home Secretary to ascertain whether it's necessary to continue restrictions on the internet in Jammu & Kashmir. The committee will be headed by the Union Home Secretary, and also consists of Union Communications Secretary, and chief secretary of Jammu & Kashmir. The court directed the committee to examine the issues raised by the petitioners, as well as the government's responses. It will examine how appropriate the alternatives suggested by the petitioners are, such as limiting restrictions only to areas where it is necessary, and allowing 3G or 4G speeds on a trial basis in certain geographical areas, the court said. The committee will then advise the Union government. The 'special committee' is effectively a replacement of the Review Committee under the Telecom Suspension (or Internet Shutdowns) Rules under the Telegraph Act. The review committee consists of state level officials to review internet shutdown orders passed by a state. For orders passed by the Central government, central level officials, including the Union Home Secretary, are part of the committee. The court observed that since the issues affect the state and country, the Review Committee, "which consists of only State level officers, may not be in a position to satisfactorily address all the issues raised". However, Jammu & Kashmir was culled out into a union territory by the Centre after the abrogation of its special status in August 2019. Union territories are administered directly by the Centre. "In…
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