The Supreme Court on Friday adjourned the hearing of Kashmir Times Executive Editor Anuradha Bhasin’s plea challenging the restrictions imposed on journalists in Jammu and Kashmir, Live Law reported. The court said it would like to give the government a little more time to review the situation.
“We have read in newspaper today that landline and broadband connections are being restored gradually,” the court said. “Therefore, we will take up the petition with other connected matters. We also got a call today from chief justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court.” The court said it would “fix a date on the administrative side” later.
On Tuesday, the three-judge bench of Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, and Justices SA Bobde and S Abdul Nazeer had refused to pass any order on lifting the restrictions. Then too the court had said the Centre should be given more time to restore normalcy in the region.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who argued the government’s case, urged the court to dismiss Bhasin’s petition, and said “security forces know the ground situation”. He added that the situation was being reviewed every day, Bar and Bench reported. “Let security agencies be trusted,” Mehta told the court.
Bhasin’s lawyer Vrinda Grover said “the press card should be respected and media should not be curbed”, The Hindu reported. “Press is the 4th Pillar of democracy,” she added.
In her petition, 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.
Bhasin 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, she added.
The court also berated advocate ML Sharma, who challenged the presidential order used to hollow out Article 370, for poor drafting of the petition, Bar and Bench reported. Article 370 granted the state special constitutional status.
“What kind of petition is this?” asked the three-judge bench, “What are your pleadings, prayer? We don’t want to dismiss it because it might affect other petitions. In a matter of this nature, how can you file such a petition?”
Ranjan Gogoi said he tried to read Sharma’s petition for half an hour but could not understand it. The court allowed Sharma to amend his plea.
The top court said all six petitions challenging the Central government’s decisions regarding Kashmir were defective, PTI reported. “In a serious matter like this, people are filing defective petitions?” asked Gogoi. Once the defects are amended, the registrar will place the matter before the chief justice, and they will be listed along with the other petitions.
In his plea, Sharma claimed that the presidential order was 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.