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Kashmir region returning to normalcy, Centre tells Supreme Court

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Lockdown in Kashmir
Indian security forces patrol a deserted street during restrictions after the Indian government scrapped special status for Kashmir, in Srinagar August 7, 2019.

New Delhi, Nov 21 : A day after Home Minister Amit Shah’s statement in the Parliament on Kashmir, the Centre, through Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, gave the Supreme Court a detailed account of “normalcy” returning to Jammu and Kashmir, especially in the Valley.

The Solicitor General, in a counter to petitions challenging the restrictions imposed on Kashmir after revocation of Article 370, said these petitions have outlived their relevance as the erstwhile state is returning to normalcy.

“The region is under diktats is a serious allegation levelled by petitioners… post August 5, rights have been conferred on citizens and not taken away,” he said. He insisted the narrative suggesting the entire seven million population is under the shadow of doubt, in the backdrop of these restrictions, is a false notion pedalled by a minority.

Elaborating on the nature of terrorism, Mehta, supporting the restrictions imposed on the access to internet in the region, said: “We are victim of cross border terrorism, who infiltrate digitally and not only physically.”

Mehta presented the latest data, on the situation of Kashmir as on November 18, before a bench headed by Justice N.V. Ramana. “Orders under section 144 CrPC have been removed from all 195 police stations. There has been a decrease in incidents of stone pelting, 190 incidents reported after August 5 as compared to 802 in 2018. And, all 20,411 schools are open. Nearly 99 per cent students appeared in senior secondary examination,” he told the court.

The Solicitor General added all hospitals and medical centres are open in the Valley. Large volumes of fuel have been consumed which indicate vehicular movement in the region. “The government purchased apples through NAFED at a cost of Rs 38 crore. Out of 59,76,359 mobile phones, 20,05,293 post-paid mobile phones (voice) are functioning. But, restrictions continue on pre-paid, as identities can be forged to get a connection,” he added.

The government has facilitated 280 e-terminals for access to internet in 11 districts, and arrangements have been made in tourist spots. The Centre insisted that newspapers are being published, banking services are functional, nearly all shops and markets are open in the Valley, government offices are functional, and public transport is also functioning.

The SG told the petitioner, who is the editor of a newspaper, deliberately chose not to publish newspaper from Kashmir. “The narrative everything is blocked and journalists do not do anything is not true,” he contended.

India

Petitions against Hyderabad encounter filed in SC

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The Supreme Court of India
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New Delhi, Dec 7 (IANS) Two petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court seeking registration of an FIR and compensation to the families of the four accused killed in an ‘encounter’ in the case of the rape and murder of a 25-year-old veterinarian in Hyderabad.

Petitioner G.S. Mani sought directions for the registration of an FIR and then an investigation by the CBI, SIT, CID or a team of police officials from another state into the ‘encounter’.

The petition urged the apex court that an independent investigation agency must be directed in accordance with the guidelines laid down in connection with investigation (the PUCL vs State of Maharashtra) in fake encounter killing.

The petition alleged that it was a stage-managed encounter to cover up the alleged lapses of the police, which led to the commission of the gruesome crime of rape and murder.

In another petition, advocate Manohar Lal Sharma said that the killing of 4 arrested persons in police custody was allegedly done due to the demands of political leaders, and the media raising a hue and cry seeking the immediate execution of the accused without a trial “which is a serious violation of Article 21 as well as murder of innocent citizens of India”.

“It’s a serious injury to the constitutional systems and endanger further life & liberty to the citizen of India,” said Sharma in the petition.

Seeking compensation for the families of the accused, Sharma said the apex court should pass a direction to give a compensation of Rs 20 lakhs to the family members of each accused killed in police custody in the interest of justice.

“Appointment of an SIT, consisting retired Supreme Court judges, to conduct investigation with the help of CBI under the regular supervision of this court, and to file their report before this court for further action and prosecution of all involved police personnel, leaders and media channels in accordance of law in the interest of justice,” contended Sharma in his petition.

He also urged the apex court to issue a proper order prohibiting the media and leaders from conducting a media trial or making any statement during the pendency of a trial for rape, murder and crime against anyone including women until the trial is concluded.

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Rape convict writes to President

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Ramnath-Kovind-
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New Delhi, Dec 7-The 2012 gang rape case convict Vinay Sharma has written to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking withdrawal of his mercy petition.

Sharma through his counsel A.P. Singh wrote to the President on Saturday requesting him that he be allowed to withdraw the mercy petition, claiming that the mercy plea sent to the President by the Ministry of Home Affairs was not signed by him. Singh alleged there was a conspiracy as he has not yet filed a curative petition.

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Justice loses its character if it becomes revenge: CJI Bobde

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Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde

Jodhpur, Dec 7– Chief Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde said on Saturday that justice can never become instant, and it loses its character if it becomes revenge.

The Chief Justice’s remarks gain significance in the backdrop of “encounter” killings of four persons accused of rape-murder of a veterinarian by Telangana police. The police have faced criticism from various sections, although people at large have hailed the “punishment”.

While inaugurating a new building of the Rajasthan High Court, the Chief Justice said, “Recent events in the country have sparked an old debate with new vigour. There is no doubt that criminal justice system must reconsider its position, reconsider its attitude towards time, towards laxity and towards the eventual time it takes to dispose of a criminal matter.

“But I don’t think justice can ever be, and ought to be, instant. Justice must never take the form of revenge. I believe justice loses its character of justice if it becomes revenge.”

The CJI said, “There is a need in the judiciary to invoke self-correcting measures, whether those measures should be publicised can be a matter of debate. But I believe the institution must correct itself as indeed it did during the much-criticised press conference (in 2018)”.

The CJI was apparently referring to a press conference by four senior judges of the Supreme Court in January 2018, accusing then CJI Dipak Misra of violating conventions and allowing the executive to interfere in court affairs. All the four judges have since retired.

“We have to device methods for speeding up litigation. There are laws which provide for free litigation mediation and I take this opportunity to say why we should not have compulsory free litigation mediation across all district courts.

“Surprisingly no courses are available for conferring a degree or diploma in mediation. We have taken the initiative and have asked the Bar Council of India to work on this,” he said.

Bobde said he envisages utilisation of Artificial Intelligence to improve the efficiency of justice administration system.

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