J&K 'sensitive', govt should be given time: SC

'Nothing can be done overnight, govt to be given time'

Security personnel stand guard a street during a lockdown in Srinagar on August 12, 2019. (AFP)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to pass an immediate order to lift restrictions imposed on telecom and internet services in Jammu and Kashmir, stating that the Centre must be given some time to restore normalcy in the state.

Observing that the situation in J&K was “very sensitive”, a three-judge bench presided over by Justice Arun Mishra said, “Nothing can be done overnight. If normalcy would be there, we don’t know.”

“Nobody knows what is the situation and what is going to happen. Who will be responsible, every pros and cons has to be considered,” the bench, also comprising Justices M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi, said.

The court’s remarks came after senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy, appearing for TV panelist and activist Tehseen Poonawalla, sought a direction for relaxing the communication blockade at least for police stations, hospitals and schools.

“Can you have a blanket prohibition where one cannot reach even hospital and police station,” she asked, adding even family members of the armed forces were not able to reach them.

To this, the bench said, “You are not about soldiers. Your poorly drafted petition is not about them, even soldiers are subject to laws.” 

Attorney General K K Venugopal said the government wanted to avoid a situation witnessed in 2016.

“There is presumption of constitutionality in the steps taken by the government. Law and order has to be maintained with the least inconvenience. Since 1990, the situation has been bad. In July 2016, we had a situation like this where over 40 people lost their lives,” he said, adding there had been no loss of life till now.

During the hearing, the court also asked the government’s counsel on whether they were reviewing the situation as the facilities were essential.

To this, the A-G said the situation was being reviewed on an everyday basis. 

Following the statement, the bench said, “We are always with restoring the facility. We should have real picture. We can be taking a call after two weeks. The situation right now is a little different.”

The court posted the matter after two weeks and asked petitioner Poonawalla to come with full particulars.

‘Wage a new struggle’

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi asked his countrymen not to live in a “fool’s paradise” on Kashmir. 

Addressing the media in Muzaffarabad on Monday, Qureshi said, “You (people) should not in live fool’s paradise. Nobody will be standing there (in the UNSC) with garlands in hands...Nobody will be there waiting for you,” he said and asked Pakistanis to “wage a new struggle” to get the support of the UNSC.
 

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