SC Says No to Urgent Hearings on Petitions Against Abrogation of Article 370, Curfew in Kashmir
New Delhi: The Supreme Court Thursday refused to accord urgent hearing to a plea filed by a Congress activist against the government's decision to impose restrictions and "other regressive measures" in Jammu and Kashmir after revoking the provisions of Article 370.
The petition was mentioned before a bench of Justices N V Ramana and Ajay Rastogi which said that the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will decide its listing before an appropriate bench for hearing.
The bench declined the plea for urgent hearing and asked the registry to place the petition before the CJI. Advocate Suhail Malik, appearing for activist Tehseen Poonawalla, said he is not expressing any opinion on Article 370 but has sought withdrawal of 'curfew/restrictions' and other alleged regressive measures including blocking of phone lines, Internet and news channels.
He said people need to talk to their family members and have a right to know their well-being in a situation prevailing there.
Poonawalla also sought a direction from the apex court for the release of leaders like former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who are under detention.
Besides, he sought the setting up of a judicial commission to inquire into ground realities in the state.
He has contended that the decisions that have been taken by the government violate fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution.
After the brief hearing, the bench said: "At the request of the counsel appearing for the petitioner seeking urgent listing of the Writ Petition, the Registry is directed to place the matter before the Chief Justice of India for listing the said petition, subject to curing of defects, before an appropriate Bench next week".
The plea said that "the inhabitants of the State of J&K are suffering on account of unwarranted imposition of curfew and/ or restrictions under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, preventive arrests, snapping of phone lines, suspension of internet services, media gag,barred access to healthcare, educational institutions, banks, public offices, shops and establishments and all other basic amenities".
The entire state is under virtual cordon and "has been converted into a garrison by increasing the number of troopers on everyday basis when in fact there has been no news of any organized/ violent protests against the constitutional amendments or for any other reason", it said.
Poonawalla sought direction from the court questioning the Centre and J&K as under what authority they have taken such tough steps including the arrest of former Chief Ministers, former union ministers, former legislators and political activists.
"Arrest of separatist leaders may be totally justifiable but meeting out the same treatment to mainstream political workers who have given their blood and sweat for the integration of State with Union of India is highly questionable and deserves to be condemned," his plea said.
He sought quashing of orders imposing indefinite curfew/ restrictions, arbitrary arrests, shutdown of phone services and snapping of internet.
Poonawalla sought direction to Centre appointing a judicial commission to visit and ascertain the ground situation in the state and file a status report before the court.
Many political workers and leaders, including Abdullah and Mufti, have been detained in Jammu and Kashmir since the Centre decided to revoke provisions of Article 370 and divide the state in to two union territories, officials said.
President Ram Nath Kovind has declared abrogation of the provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Parliament on Tuesday had approved a resolution abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and a bill for splitting the state into two union territories.
The resolution and the bill were approved by Rajya Sabha on Monday.