The Supreme Court on Monday passed a slew of directions related to many separate aspects of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Significantly, it agreed to hear a plea by the Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference against the abrogation of Article 370 and asked the Jammu and Kashmir High Court for a report on allegations that people in the Valley are not being able to access it.
The court's directives came in response to separate ongoing cases pertaining to the situation in the state in the aftermath of its bifurcation into two Union Territories and the invalidation of Article 370 of the Constitution.
Will visit Srinagar if required, says CJI
Terming as "very very serious" the allegation that people are finding it very difficult to approach the Jammu and Kashmir High Court, the Supreme Court Monday requested the Chief Justice there to file a report on the matter.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi said that the apex court is bound to take serious note of the allegation.
The CJI said he would himself visit Srinagar if required.
Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, appearing for two child rights activists, told the bench that it is very difficult for people in the state to access the high court there.
In response, the bench, which also comprised Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer, said, "If you are saying so, we are bound to take serious note of it. Tell us why it is very difficult for people to approach the high court. Is anybody stopping the people from going to high court. It is very very serious."
The bench, however, warned that if the allegations are found to be incorrect then the petitioners should be ready to face consequences. The judges were considering a public interest litigation seeking the apex court's intervention on the issue of detention of children in Kashmir.
The plea has been filed child rights expert Enakshi Ganguly and Professor Shanta Sinha against the illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir.
The plea contended that all persons below the age of 18 years who have been detained be identified through an age census. Bar and Bench has quoted the petition as saying, "With regard to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, there have been certain reports specific to children, which describe violations of very different kinds, ranging in seriousness from potential loss of life and liberty of the child, to being emotionally and intellectually drawn into the conflict."
JKPC files plea challenging abrogation of Article 370
The Supreme Court also agreed to entertain a petition filed by the Jammu and Kashmir People's Conference (JKPC) challenging the President's Rule imposed in the state and abrogation of provisions of Article 370, which gave special status to the state.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer tagged the petition filed by JKPC along with petitions which have been referred to a five-judge Constitution bench for examining the legal validity of the Presidential order on abrogation of Article 370 from the state.
However, the bench declined to entertain other fresh petitions on the issue of scrapping of Article 370.
The JKPC is the second party after the National Conference (NC) which has mounted a legal challenge in the apex court to the changes made in the Constitutional status of the state.
The National Conference's petition has been filed by Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, both Lok Sabha members belonging to the party.
Restore normalcy keeping national interest in mind, says apex court
Another petition that came up for hearing in the Supreme Court on Monday was the one filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times. Bhasin has sought removal of restrictions imposed on working of journalists in the state.
The court asked the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir administration to make all endeavours to restore normalcy in the Kashmir Valley as soon as possible but made it clear that the restoration would be on a "selective basis" keeping in mind national interest.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer, was told by Attorney General K K Venugopal about steps taken by authorities to restore normalcy in the state.
The apex court asked Venugopal to file an affidavit indicating steps taken so far in the matter.
During the hearing, Venugopal said that issues raised by the petitioner "do not appear to be genuine" as Kashmir-based newspapers are being published and the government has been offering all kinds of assistance to them.
However, in response, the court observed, "It is not about just one or two newspapers. They are saying that there is general communication shutdown. We would like to know whether it is a breakdown or shutdown and for what reasons."
Relief for Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mohd Yusuf Tarigami
The court on Monday allowed Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit Srinagar, Baramulla, Anantnag and Jammu. It also allowed CPM leader Mohammed Yusuf Tarigami to go back to Jammu and Kashmir, which is his home state.
Responding to Azad's petition, CJI Gogoi said that the Congress leader cannot make any speeches or hold any public rally as per his own submissions. The Congress leader had earlier stated that he wants to inquire about the well-being of his family members and other residents of the state. According to Bar and Bench, Azad said that he only wants to interact with daily wagers and others whose livelihoods have been affected by the restrictions.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices SA Bobde and SA Nazeer said the former MLA does not need any permission to go home if doctors at AIIMS allow him.
The former MLA alleged that his vehicle has been taken away and he will be confined to his home.
The ailing leader was on 9 September shifted to AIIMS following the apex court order.
Tarigami was put under house arrest on 5 August after the Centre abrogated special status to Jammu and Kashmir under the Constitution.
Meanwhile, the court has sought a response from the Centre and state administration on the habeas corpus petition moved by MDMK chief Vaiko, seeking the release of former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah.
In his plea, Vaiko has sought that National Conference leader Abdullah be allowed to attend an event in Chennai.
Abdullah has been under the preventive detention in Srinagar since the invalidation of Article 370.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Sep 16, 2019 18:38:53 IST