A three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer will also hear a writ petition filed by advocate ML Sharma challenging the presidential order that was used to hollow out Article 370, which granted the state special constitutional status. Sharma has claimed that the order is illegal as it was passed without taking consent from the state Assembly. The state has been under president’s rule since last year.
In his petition, Sharma mentioned how political leaders in the state were either detained or arrested before the August 5 notification ended the state’s autonomy. There was no meaningful legislative or representative debate, he added.
The Centre imposed restrictions on public movement and gatherings in the state on August 5 and cut off communication networks hours before taking its decision. It also passed a bill splitting the state into two Union Territories. The state has witnessed sporadic protests since then, especially in Kashmir Valley. Restrictions have been been partially lifted in Jammu but remain in place in the Valley.
In her petition, Anuradha Bhasin said the restrictions were curbing the rights of journalists under the provisions of articles 14 and 19 of Constitution. She said the shutdown had fueled anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of the state.
“The petitioner has not been able to print and publish the Kashmir edition of Kashmir Times as the complete and absolute restrictions on all communication services and movement has resulted in the imposition of blockade on media activities, including reporting and publishing on the situation in Kashmir,” read Bhasin’s petition.
She said the information blackout was a “direct and grave violation of the right of the people to know about the decisions that directly impact their lives and their future”. It stopped the media from reporting the developments and from knowing the opinions of the citizens of the state, Bhasin added.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court refused to pass any orders on lifting the restrictions, and said the Centre should be given more time to restore normalcy in the region. The court said there was a “serious situation” in Jammu and Kashmir and the Centre and state government may be “apprehending law and order”.