A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court on Wednesday seeking directions for the immediate restoration of high-speed internet services and fixed landline phone services across all hospitals and medical establishments of Jammu and Kashmir.
Advocate Satya Mitra filed the petition on behalf of doctor Sameer Kaul and one Salim Jahangeer Kirmani.
The petition also sought direction to the central government to desist and refrain in future from blocking or suspending internet and fixed landline phone services in hospitals and medical establishments along with mobile phone services of doctors and other staff members working in hospitals and medical establishments of the Jammu and Kashmir.
The petitioner said that the directions from the apex court can mitigate the adverse effects on health and medical services in hospitals and medical establishments across Kashmir region due to frequent and prolonged suspension/shutdown of internet services.
"In the age of digital India, when most of the services including medical services are fully dependent on availability of internet facilities, snapping of internet services across hospitals and medical establishments in Kashmir amounts to serious infringement of fundamental right to health and medical care which has been recognized and included as a part of right to life enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India," the plea stated.
Suspension of internet facilities to hospitals and medical establishments results in obstruction to and causes hindrance in the smooth functioning of health and medical services, the petition further stated.
"In today's age of e-commerce, most of the medicines are being procured by hospital and other medical establishments using e-commerce platforms and lack of access to internet is hindering the procurement of lifesaving drugs and baby foods in glaring violation of the rights of women and children under the Constitutional provisions and under the international treaties to which India is a signatory," the petition said.
It added that internet is an indispensable utility service for health care industry and important machines like MRI and CT scanners require constant updates from servers requiring internet connections, most of the patient information repositories, documentations and records are maintained on online servers.
"At the time of an internet shutdown, it becomes impossible to work on these servers," it stated, adding that new registrations for internet-based health insurance schemes are not being carried out due to non-availability of internet services.
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