The apex court of the country today declined to interfere in the curbs imposed on communication and people’s movement in Jammu and Kashmir after the government revoked Article 370 and Article 35A and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories. The restrictions were put in place ahead of the historic moves to fully integrate Jammu and Kashmir into India were announced by Home Minister Amit Shah.
A Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi said it was too premature for it to intercede in the everyday functioning of the administration. The court has further put off the hearing on the plea for two weeks.
In response to the petition filed by Tehseen Poonawala, in which he had challenged the government’s move to impose restrictions and “other regressive measures”, the court refused to meddle in saying that the government should be given appropriate time for the normalcy to prevail. Poonawala sought withdrawal of restrictions and other alleged regressive measures including communication blockade in J&K.
When the Supreme Court asked the government how long it will take to restore normalcy in the state, Attorney General KK Venugopal informed the court that the government is monitoring the situation on a day to day basis. Citing that in the aftermath of the death of Burhan Wani, 46 persons had died in the violence, the AG said that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is dynamic, and certain section of people are waiting for just one opportunity to create disturbances.
The apex court also criticised the petition saying it is badly drafted. Justice Mishra said, “Even the petitioner may not know the truth. It is a very badly drafted petition”.
The court said that every pros and cons have to be considered before arriving at a decision, asking who would be responsible if something really bad happens after lifting the restrictions. Justice Shah said that government also want to revert to normalcy as soon as possible. Justice Mishra added the court is all for liberty but there has to be a real picture before them, some reasonable time has to be given to wait for normalcy.
Tehseen was not the only one to file a petition in the Supreme Court for lifting the restrictions on communication channels in the state. The editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin today filed a petition seeking an urgent hearing to remove restrictions imposed in the state in the aftermath of Article 370 abrogation.
Vrinda Grover, advocate of Bhasin, asked the courts to direct the state administration to provide a conducive environment for journalists to carry on their jobs unimpeded. The SC bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra asked advocate Vrinda Grover to hand over the memo to the registrar and that he will look into it.
After the government took the momentous decision of repealing Article 370 on August 6 last week, assorted liberals and separatist sympathisers have expressed their disapproval with the government’s move. Senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said that move was a “constitutional manoeuvre” while many others insinuated that the decision was made to subdue the population of India’s only Muslim-majority state.
The government, on the other hand, has claimed that it is committed to the development of Jammu and Kashmir and the decision taken by it will bolster growth and development in the state besides facilitating greater integration of state with the Indian union.
The situation in the state is closely monitored by security and administrative agencies and based on the dynamic situation, restrictions are tightened or relaxed as deemed appropriate by the local authorities.