Media curbs and communication restrictions; SC pulls up J&K govt, asks it to place records

Kashmir Times. Dated: 10/17/2019 8:29:48 AM

NEW DELHI, Oct 16(Agencies): The Supreme Court on Wednesday asked the Jammu and Kashmir administration to place before it orders on the basis of which communication restrictions were imposed in the state after abrogation of provisions of Article 370.
The Supreme Court today pulled up the Centre for not placing on record the orders concerning the shutdown and restrictions in the Kashmir region. It questioned the J&K administration as to why they have not placed before it the orders and notifications imposing communication restrictions in the state.
Mehta told the Court that a rejoinder was filed by the Centre when the matter was taken up the previous time. Advocate Vrinda Grover, arguing for Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin told the Court that the government's rejoinder still had not touched upon the orders imposing restrictions. This point was raised in the counter affidavit filed by Bhasin some days ago.
The Bench, in turn, asked Solicitor General Mehta why these orders were not placed on record.
"Is it done purposefully?" the Court queried.
Mehta argued that the petition originally prayed only for the lifting of the curbs in the region. The situation on ground is changing gradually. The petitioner has now expanded the scope of the prayer to seek production of the orders also, Mehta argued.
Grover objected to this submission to say that the petition seeks production of these orders as the first point of prayer so that the validity of the decisions can be examined. The Court acknowledged and agreed with Grover's submission on this.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the J&K administration, told a bench headed by Justice N V Ramana that he would place before the top court the administrative orders relating to communication restrictions for the perusal of the bench only.
"We will place them before the Supreme Court. Nobody can sit in appeal of administrative decisions taken in national interest. Only the court can look into it and certainly not the petitioners," Mehta said to the bench. Mehta said to the bench, also comprising justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai that circumstances relating to communication restrictions have changed and he will file an affidavit giving fresh details on the issue.
When the bench referred to media reports that mobile services have been restored in the valley, the counsel for one of the petitioners said only postpaid mobiles were operational but the SMS service was stopped by authorities on Tuesday. The apex court was hearing petition which has raised the issue of physical restrictions and communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir following abrogation of provisions of Article 370.
Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, representing one of the petitioners in the case, interjected to respond to Mehta's submission and said,
"We are not sitting in appeal on administrative orders but we can tell the Court that the material you have placed is inadequate."
The Court proceeded to direct the Centre to place on record all the orders relating to shutdown and detention in Kashmir. Should the Centre not wish to divulge reasons for not placing any order on record, an affidavit detailing the reasons is to be filed for the same. The Court has fixed the next date of hearing on October 25.

 

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