SC refuses to intervene, says govt must be given time

KT NEWS SERVICE. Dated: 8/14/2019 11:20:49 AM

Restrictions, regressive measures in J&K

NEW DELHI, Aug 13: The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to interfere in administrative restrictions imposed on communication and people's movement in the aftermath of removal of the special status enjoyed by Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370.
The top court said it was too early for it to intervene and it was against playing the role of a day-to-day administrator. The court adjourned hearing on the plea for two weeks.
The SC's comments were in response to a petition by Tehseen Poonawala challenging the Centre's decision to impose restrictions and “other regressive measures” in Jammu and Kashmir. The plea sought withdrawal of ‘curfew/ restrictions' and other alleged regressive measures including blocking of phone lines, Internet and news channels in J&K.
“The court cannot be playing the role of day-to-day administration. This is a serious situation.” The SC observed in between the arguments made by the petitioner's counsel and the government.
The court said it was the responsibility of the administration in response to the Attorney General's submission that normalcy may have returned to some district. The Supreme Court said it was willing to wait before deciding if intervention was required.
“Some reasonable time should be given to restore case the position remains like this then we will take a call,” the court observed.
During arguments, petitioner claimed residents were unable to access hospitals or police stations like before. However the court felt in the absence of facts it was not possible to issue any orders. “We are with you on life and liberty. Situation is such that we should have a real picture. This court is not posted with the details. Let us wait for some time,” Supreme Court said.
“The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is sensitive and one must rely on the government,” the Supreme Court.
The petitioner had sought an immediate lifting of the lockdown that has been in place there for more than a week and the release of political leaders currently under arrest. “We expect normalcy. But nothing can be done overnight. Nobody knows what's happening. One has to rely on the government... It is a sensitive issue,” the court said, adjourning the case for two weeks.
Jammu and Kashmir has been under an unprecedented security cover and prohibitory orders that ban large gatherings since August 4 - the eve of the government's announcement of the withdrawal of the special status for the state and its bifurcation into two Union Territories. Internet and phone connectivity have also been withdrawn, pointing to which the petitioner said even the soldiers have been unable to connect with their families.
In response to the court's queries no whether the situation on the ground is being reviewed, the Centre said it was reviewing the situation daily. “We expect it will be settled soon,” Attorney General KK Venugopal, the government's highest law officer, told the court.
The Attorney General pointed out that the lockdown has been the way to maintain law and order with the “least inconvenience.” “In July 2016, we had a similar situation when three terrorists (including Burhan Wani) were killed. People came to the roads. At that time, internet was cut... More than 40 people died. Now, now not a single person is dead,” he added.
“We should have a real picture. Time has to be given. Let us wait for normalcy. If the situation continues, the petitioner can come to court,” said a three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra. Yesterday, the government said Eid-al-Adha had passed peacefully in Jammu and Kashmir, barring a few sporadic incidents. But the mood was subdued as the streets of Srinagar remained deserted under the watchful eyes of the security personnel. The restriction measures, which had been lifted for a day, were back on Sunday morning.
The court, however, noted that the current situation in J&K was “very sensitive” and the government should ensure that there is no loss of life.
The Supreme Court asked the government as to how long all these measures would continue. Replying to the court, the Attorney General KK Venugopal said, “We are reviewing the situation on a day-to-day basis. We have to ensure that law and order situation in J&K is maintained. It is a highly sensitive situation; it’s in the interest of everyone. Not a single drop of blood has been shed, no one has died.”
Stating that the Union government must be given some time to restore normalcy in Jammu and Kashmir, the top court posted the matter for hearing after two weeks.



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