The Supreme Court will on Friday hear a petition relating to the crisis in Kashmir that began over 10 days ago. One petition challenges the centre’s decision to scrap provisions of Article 370, while another, by Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin, seeks the removal of restrictions on the media in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Supreme Court had on Tuesday refused to interfere with the centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government imposing restrictions, including the shutdown of communication services, after the abrogation of Article 370, saying that “reasonable time” should be given to authorities to ensure normalcy as the “situation is very sensitive”.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has agreed to China’s request for “closed consultations” to discuss the Kashmir issue. The meeting will take place at 7.30pm IST, a UN official confirmed to The Hindu.
What are the petitions?
Pleas challenging scrapping of Article 370
On Friday, a three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi will hear ML Sharma’s petition, which challenges the August 5 Presidential order through which Article 367 was amended, making Article 370 redundant, Bar&Bench reported.
After the order, home minister Amit Shah told the Parliament that Centre had decided to abrogate Article 370 and divide the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. A Bill and resolution to this effect were passed in both Houses of the Parliament within two days.
The advocate in his plea has claimed that the presidential order was illegal since it was passed without the consent of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly.
Plea by Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin
Restriction and a communication shutdown have been imposed on Kashmir since the intervening night of August 4-5.
Journalist Anuradha Bhasin has asked for the restoration of all modes of communication, including mobile Internet and landline services, throughout Jammu and Kashmir in order to allow the media to practise its profession.
Bhasin has also sought immediate relaxation of all restrictions on freedom of movement of journalists and media personnel in Kashmir and some districts of Jammu.
She has sought framing of guidelines to ensure that the right and means of media personnel to report and publish news is not unreasonably curtailed through the issuance of orders by the authorities or any other authority suspending telecom or internet services.
The journalist has also sought a direction for setting aside or quashing any and all orders under which all modes of communication have been shut down.
What has the Supreme Court said so far?
The top court had on Tuesday said it will have to wait for the “real picture” to emerge and look into “all the pros and cons” before going into the issues raised in the “poorly drafted” and “very carelessly filed” plea with perhaps the petitioner also not knowing the truth of the situation.
A bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and Ajay Rastogi heard Tehseen Poonawalla’s plea which challenged the centre’s decision to impose restrictions and “other regressive measures” in Jammu and Kashmir following the revocation of the provisions of Article 370.
The court took note of the centre’s stand that it was reviewing the situation in the region on a day-to-day basis as also the reports from district magistrates and relaxations were being ordered accordingly.
The court asked authorities to ensure that no life was lost there and posted the matter after two weeks.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the court not a single death has been reported since last Monday after the restrictions were imposed (though HuffPost India reported last week that a 17-year-old civilian drowned while trying to escape from CRPF personnel).
“We are with you on the issue of right to liberty of the people. But we should have a real picture before us,” the bench told senior advocate Maneka Guruswamy, arguing for Poonawalla.
Poonawalla’s petition had also sought a direction from the court for the release of leaders such as former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who are under detention, as well as the setting up of a judicial commission to inquire into ground realities.
He said the decisions taken by the Centre violated fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
The National Conference has also filed a petition posing legal challenges to the changes made in the constitutional status of J&K, contending that these have taken away the rights of its citizens without their mandate.
According to PTI, the petition has been filed by NC MP Mohammad Akbar Lone and Hasnain Masoodi, a retired judge of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, who ruled in 2015 that Article 370 was a permanent feature of the Constitution.
This, however, is not among the petitions being heard on Friday.
(With PTI inputs)