The Supreme Court has asked the union government to take every effort to restore normalcy in Kashmir while keeping national security in mind. The apex court issued this direction while hearing a petition regarding filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, seeking to withdraw the communication blockade impose in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370. The court also took up a few other petitions in regard to Jammu and Kashmir.
Bhasin’s lawyer Vrinda Grover said that communication blackout is still continuing in the state. When the court asked why the High Court was not approached with this petition, Grover said that it was difficult to approach the High Court as communication lines were not working.
But the government rejected this claim, adding that there are no restrictions on publication of newspapers. The Attorney General said the several newspapers are being published regularly, and the petitioner had chosen to stop the publication voluntarily.
The AG informed the court that mobile phone networks are kept shut due to security concerns. He said that terrorists and local terrorists are getting financial support from abroad, and from even the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi.
On the issue of access to judiciary, the SC said that it will seek a report from the High Court chief justice. ‘If required, I will go to Jammu and Kashmir and personally check’, CJI Ranjan Gogoi said. The court also allowed Congress leader and former J&K CM Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Srinagar, Baramula and Jammu for social and welfare works. Azad himself volunteered that he will not do any political rallies or such activities.
After hearing the arguments, the court asked the government to unsure that normal life restored in Jammu and Kashmir, keeping national interest in mind. The court also asked to keep schools, hospitals and public transport should function properly. The Attorney General was asked to file an affidavit giving details of steps taken by the government to restore normalcy in the state.
The apex court didn’t issue any specific instructions to the government, and didn’t order the withdrawal of restrictions currently in place in the state. This has come as a major relief for the central government.