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SC asks government to restore selective normalcy in Jammu & Kashmir

Top court seeks response from J&K high court chief justice on lawyers' submission that approaching high court was difficult

Aashish Aryan  |  New Delhi 

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi
File photo of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi

The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday asked the central government and the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) administration to restore normalcy on a selective basis in the state as soon as possible, keeping in mind interest and security.

The restoration of normalcy in the state should be done to ensure people have access to all welfare facilities such as health care, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said.

Media movement in the Valley

The directions by the top court came on a plea moved by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Valley-based newspaper Kashmir Times, who had alleged the government had continued with its communication blockade; this was hampering the working of journalists in the region.

Responding to Bhasin’s allegation, Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the apex court that restrictions have been lifted in over 88 per cent police stations in the Kashmir division, while 100 per cent restrictions had been lifted in both Jammu and Ladakh divisions. The communication and movement restrictions, Venugopal said, had been taken in ‘interest for preventing any loss of life or property, which would otherwise have been inevitable, if the restrictions placed had not been implemented’.

The court also took serious umbrage, when a senior advocate — appearing for two child rights activists — told the Bench it is difficult for people in the state to access the high court (HC) there.

“Is anybody preventing people from going to the HC? We have called a report from the chief justice of the HC. If required, I will personally go there,” CJI Ranjan Gogoi said.

The three-judge Bench, however, warned that should the allegations made by the petitioners be wrong, they would face serious consequences.

In a separate plea moved by Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader Vaiko, in which he has alleged that the former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah had been kept under detention illegally by the erstwhile state’s administration, the Supreme Court sought the central government and J&K administration’s response by September 30.

Vaiko, who claims to be a close friend of Abdullah for over 40 years, has contended that constitutional rights conferred on the Conference (NC) leader had been deprived of on account of ‘illegal detention without any authority of law’ since August 5, when the central government had decided to scrap the special status of J&K.

Farooq Abdullah booked under Public Safety Act

Meanwhile, the 81-year-old Abdullah was arrested on Monday under the stringent Public Safety Act (PSA) and his residence was declared a jail. The NC chairman has been booked under the ‘public order’ provision of the PSA under which a person can be kept inside jail from three to six months without a trial, the officials said. Abdullah was served the notice under the PSA at 1 am on Monday and his Gupkar Road house declared a jail, the officials said.

With inputs from PTI

First Published: Mon, September 16 2019. 18:37 IST