J&K: Supreme Court reserves judgement on curbs

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin, termed the curbs "unconstitutional" and said the restrictions have to pass the test of proportionality.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved its judgment on a clutch of petitions, including that of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad questioning the restrictions imposed in Jammu and Kashmir with the revocation of Article 370 of the Constitution on August 5.

A bench of Justice N V Ramana, Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice B R Gavai wrapped up the hearing on the matter in which the Kashmir Times executive editor Anuradha Bhasin contended there were not only restrictions on communications but curbs were imposed on transportation seriously affecting the work of media personnel.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Azad, maintained they understood that there are national security issues in Jammu and Kashmir, but the entire seven million population cannot be "locked down".

Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Bhasin, termed the curbs "unconstitutional" and said the restrictions had to pass the test of proportionality.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration, for its part, claimed curbs on Internet services were enforced as terrorists and Pakistan's Army made attempts on social media to instigate people for 'jihad'. It said District Magistrates have issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC, only as per necessity in each of the areas.

The situation was being monitored on a daily basis to reduce inconvenience to the people and internet kiosks have been opened for those who required such facilities. It said 96% of schools in Kashmir and 100% in Jammu and Ladakh were open.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Jammu and Kashmir administration, had cited public speeches and social media posts of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and leaders of the National Conference party against the removal of Article 35A, which gave special rights to permanent residents of the state, and Article 370 provisions that granted special status to the state.

The Centre had said it would be foolish not to take preventive measures where the land has a history of 22,000 terrorists being killed and many separatists operating over there. A few years ago, when a terrorist was killed, the internet was suspended for over three months, not a single case was filed but now 20 cases have filed, the Attorney General had said.

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