SC refuses urgent hearing on PIL on J-K restrictions

Paramilitary troopers stand guard behind a barbed fence wire as they block a road during a curfew in Srinagar. (AFP Photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to grant an immediate hearing on a plea for directions to the Centre to withdraw restrictions on people's movement, unblocking of internet service, the release of political leaders and appointment of a judicial commission to assess the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana and Ajay Rastogi said the PIL filed by activist Tehseen Poonawalla would be placed before the Chief Justice of India for appropriate orders.

An advocate, appearing for Poonawalla, mentioned the matter for urgent hearing. He said at least there should be a direction to allow the people over there and outside to develop contacts through telephones.

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Separately, advocate M L Sharma, who challenged the validity of August 5, 2019, Presidential Order, also mentioned his PIL for urgent hearing. The bench said the matter will come up for hearing in the regular course if there were no technical defects.

Sharma, who filed the PIL in his own name, insisted by contending that they were saying to take the matter to the UN.

"Even if they go to the UN, can it stop Parliament from passing Constitutional amendment," the bench asked.

Sharma said the Presidential order of August 5 had superseded the 1954 order and took away the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir. He contended that the amendment could have been passed by Parliament.

In his PIL, Poonawalla said it was unfortunate that the entire state of J&K, was under a virtual cordon. There has been no news of any kind of protest; be it organized or otherwise in reference to the constitutional amendments or for any other reason. 

"Arrest of separatist leaders is totally justifiable but meeting out the same treatment and arresting mainstream political leaders who have fought for the integration of J&K into the Union of India is highly questionable," he said.

He said the local inhabitants are facing difficulties in accessing basic day to day necessities particularly patients, children, women and infants who have literally been arrested in their own houses for no rhyme or reason. 

He also contended that the political leaders of J&K including former Chief Ministers, former Union Ministers, former Legislators and political activists were arbitrarily under arrest and were being denied of their basic fundamental rights.

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