NEW DELHI :
The Supreme Court on Wednesday has reserved the verdict on a batch of pleas challenging the restrictions imposed on communication and media since 5 August in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir following abrogation of provisions of Article 370.
The Apex court bench headed by Justice of Justice N V Ramana and comprising of Justices R Subhash Reddy and Justice B R Gavai had on 5 November started hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin and political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla challenging the lockdown in the state. The batch of pleas also included the plea of Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad challenging the restriction imposed.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Azad, argued that in the name of national security, the entire seven million populations cannot be “locked down". He also said that, “the real question is, can life be stopped for 100 days? Post winter, life already stops in the region."
Advocate Vrinda Grover, representing Bhasin, argues that, “affidavit filed by the State makes references to orders but the response by the government is quite vague." She further added that the restrictions are “unconstitutional" and the curbs need to pass the rest of proportionality.
Sibal also raised the concern as to no orders being shown on record with respect to continuous of restrictions in the state. “We want all the orders to be placed on records…if restrictions were lifted during night, then also there must be an order," said Sibal.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Jammu and Kashmir administration clarified, that section 144 was imposed in the State post the abrogation’s and no fresh orders with respect to restrictions have been passed after that. He also reiterated his stand that restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir are only imposed during night time and no restrictions are imposed during the day. Mehta also apprised the court of the past situation prevalent in the Kashmir Valley where terror violence was not uncommon. He said for the past so many years terrorists were being pushed through from across the border, local militants and separatist organisation had held the civilians captive in the region and it would have been "foolish" if the government would not have taken preventive steps to secure the lives of citizens
“Past cannot be changed, it is about the future. If we don’t lay down the principles that uphold the democracy and national security of the country it will be a problem," said Sibal while concluding his arguments.
The PIL filed on 10 August had sought immediate directions for the removal of restrictions imposed on media, communication and the free movement of people.