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NEW DELHI : The Supreme Court on Tuesday started hearing the arguments against the restriction imposed on communication and media in Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of the provisions of Article 370.

The three-judge bench, headed by Justice NV Ramana and comprising Justices SA Bopde and SA Nazeer, were hearing a Public Interest Litigation filed by editor of Kashmir Times, Anuradha Bhasin and political analyst Tehseen Poonawalla challenging the lockdown in the state.

Advocate Vrinda Grover appearing for Bhasin apprised the court that since past 90 days there has been no internet, mobile data service, prepaid mobile or SMS services available. This restrictions have crippled the media from doing its job, claimed Grover. Adding further she stated that this Internet ban has virtually taken away the people's right to free speech and expression and is disproportionate.

Highlighting the provisions of the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885, Grover stated that the freedom of speech can be restricted but freedom of media can be curbed only through specific reasoned order. Since the order is not served to the petitioners, Grover argued for the Solicitor General to file an affidavit in the Apex court indicting the reasons to curb the freedom of the 'press'.

Questioning the government's stand that restrictions on internet is required to prevent its misuse in the current situations, Grover asked that, “if the apprehension was that data services may be misused, why were landlines shutdown ?" She also contended that there is no nexus between prohibition of Internet services and terrorist violence.

She also added that there is a restrictions of movement as well since the public transport are also not running very smoothly and are scarce in Kashmir valley.

The bench adjourned the case before lunch and ordered that the bench shall continue hearing the arguments tomorrow.

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.

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