Social media to continue to be off-limits

The state government on Wednesday left little doubt about where it stood on the ban on access to the social media networks in the Kashmir valley and said that since there was no improvement in the situation the ban was likely to continue for some more time.

The state counsel appeared before the High Court and sought more time before the government actually took steps to review the order while submitting before the court that the situation in Kashmir was going from bad to worse.

Observing that the social media ban cannot be a “permanent fixture,” the High Court directed the state government to review the “impugned” order and file a reply by May 24, the next date of hearing. Citing the maintenance of public order, the government on April 26 ordered a one-month ban on 22 social media sites, mobile phone messengers, and video-uploading sites in Kashmir by invoking the provision of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885.

However, the ban order was challenged by two petitioners before the High Court, which on May 8 issued notices to the respondents with directions to the J&K Government to file objections by May 16. As the matter came up before the court on Wednesday, the Additional Advocate General Bashir Ahmad Dar, representing the state government, sought time to file objections.

However, at this point, Justice Sudhakar Ramalingam observed that “the ban cannot be a permanent fixture,” saying that there must be “periodical reviews” after assessing the situation. “In the interest of justice, the respondents are given one more opportunity to file a reply by May 24,” Justice Sudhakar observed in his orders. Meanwhile, Dar further submitted that a lot of lives had been lost due to the misuse of social media, adding that it was for the same reason that state was regulating social media in Kashmir.

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