SC reserves order on plea challenging Jammu and Kashmir curbs

Jammu and Kashmir

New Delhi, Nov 27 : The Supreme Court on Wednesday reserved judgement on a clutch of pleas, including the one by senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, challenging the restrictions imposed on the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir after revocation of Article 370.

“We are more concerned about the future,” said the court.

After hearing the detailed arguments of petitioners and the Centre, justifying the restrictions, a bench of Justice N.V. Ramana, Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice B.R. Gavai reserved the verdict.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta consistently maintained that during the imposition of restrictions in the Jammu and Kashmir region, neither a single life was lost nor a single bullet fired.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Azad, said restrictions have virtually abrogated the fundamental rights and paralyzed the lives of seven million people in the region.

Sibal contended that restrictions have been imposed under the garb of public tranquillity, order and national security. National security does not appear in the order imposing Section 144 in the region.

“This is not about the past, but it is about the future”, he submitted before the bench on the final day of hearing. Advocate Vrinda Grover, presenting Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin, contested the restrictions by terming them “unconstitutional” and argued that the restrictions have to pass the test of proportionality.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration had contended before the court that normalcy was returning to Kashmir. Mehta, representing the administration, submitted data on the same in the top court.

He insisted the curbs on the internet are justified, as cross-border forces are waiting to exploit this opportunity by pushing anti-India sentiments through various social media platforms. Mehta told the court that terrorists and Pakistan’s Army official Twitter handles have been used to instigate people for ‘jihad’.

Sibal said the shutdown of internet services has severe consequences on business, trade and heavily affected the common people. He contended that abnormal conditions have been induced through restrictions. He said the state should not muzzle the voice of common people.

Sibal also highlighted instances of misuse of technology. “Morphed images of me and my wife with beef in hand being circulated for the last 5 years… but we cannot do anything about it. Question is: can everything be banned because of that?” asked Sibal.

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