SC to pass judgement on pleas against J&K restrictions

SC to pass judgement on pleas against J&K restrictions

Credit: Reuters

The Supreme Court would on Friday pronounce its judgement on a clutch of petitions by Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad and others 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 had on November 27 reserved the verdict after wrapping up the hearing in 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.

During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Azad, had maintained that 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, had termed the curbs "unconstitutional" and said the restrictions have to pass the test of proportionality.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration, on 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 set up 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 history of 22000 terrorists being killed and many separatists operating over there. A few years ago when a terrorist was killed, the internet services were suspended for over three months, not a single case was filed, Attorney General had said.

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