NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre how long it intends to continue with the restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370.
“For how many days do you want restrictions? It is already two months now. You have to come clear on this and you have to find out other methods,” a bench of Justices N.V. Ramana, R. Subhash Reddy and B.R. Gavai said.
“You may impose restrictions, but you (government) have to review your decisions.”
During the hearing, the court also pointed out that the judges do not have any personal life. “My brother (Justice Gavai) had a family function today and he wanted to skip the day in court. But I requested him to come.”
The court which was hearing various miscellaneous petitions seeking relaxation and other issues in the Valley, listed the matter for November 5.
Appearing for Jammu and Kashmir administration, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that around 99 per cent restrictions have been removed and the easing of restrictions is reviewed on a daily basis.
He also told the court that the opening of the internet is directly linked to the spurt in terrorist cases in the Valley. He further added that these issues have trans-border implications.
One of the pleas filed by Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin has sought relaxation of movements in the valley, while another one was filed by a child rights activist alleging illegal detentions in Jammu and Kashmir.
The court also directed the Jammu and Kashmir High Court to expeditiously decide on the plea filed by Asifa Mubeen challenging the detention of her NRI husband.
The court will also hear other pleas, including that of CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury challenging the detention of his party colleague Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami, and also Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad’s plea on the next date fixed for hearing.
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir Government in its reply said that mobile phone facilities have been restored in Jammu and Ladakh and in Kupwara district and since October 14, service has been restored in all post-paid mobile phones, irrespective of the telecom service provider, covering all 10 districts of Kashmir province.
The administration also said that the high court is functioning on a regular basis. It also said that orders related to restrictions were passed by competent authorities, which were being reviewed from time to time but its contents cannot be disclosed to the petitioners.
The government also said that fundamental rights under Article 19 are not absolute and can be regulated in the interest of sovereignty, integrity, security of the state and general public.
“Reasonable restrictions are always inbuilt in any of the fundamental rights, more particularly when there is compelling state interest. Upholding and protecting the sovereignty, unity and integrity of the country is a fundamental duty of all under Article 51A of the Constitution,” the reply stated.
Meanwhile, the top court also listed a clutch of other cases filed between 2012 and 2018 seeking to abolish Article 370 and Article 35A for hearing on November 14, the same date when the apex court will examine the Constitutional validity of scrapping the provisions which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir.