The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury and a law student to visit Jammu and Kashmir as it heard a batch of petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution, PTI reported. The top also referred the petitions to a five-member Constitution Bench to examine the matter in early October.
Yechury’s petition in the Supreme Court had challenged the detention of Kashmiri politician and the party’s general secretary Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami. The four-time MLA has reportedly been unwell. Yechury had tried to visit Srinagar to meet him earlier this month but was sent back to Delhi.
During the hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta claimed that Tarigami’s health was monitored every day and “he is hale and hearty”, The Hindu reported. He objected to Yechury’s plea and said: “What can happen to him [Tarigami]? He is provided Z-category security”.
Yechury, represented by senior advocate Raju Ramachandran, said he wanted to meet Tarigami as he has not heard for him in a while.
The court asked Mehta what was the harm if a citizen of India wanted to meet his friend. “Whether he has Z or Z Plus category, if a citizen wants to go and meet him, you have to let him,” Gogoi told Mehta.
The court, however, directed that Yechury should not indulge in any other act except meeting Tarigami, or else it will be construed as violation of the order. The judges rejected Mehta’s suggestion to escort Yechury to Kashmir but said that if the CPI(M) leader indulged in any political activities, authorities could bring it to their notice.
“The Supreme Court has permitted me to go to Srinagar and see Com Yousuf Tarigami and ‘report’ back to them on the condition of his health,” Yechury said in a tweet after the top court order. “Once I meet him, return and report to the Court, I will make a more detailed statement.”
Yechury said he will visit Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday and will do “whatever needs to be done” on the basis of his visit.
The court also allowed Mohammad Aleem Sayed, a law student from the Jamia Millia Islamia University, to travel to Anantnag district to meet his parents. The bench ordered the state government to facilitate travel and provide him adequate police protection.
The court told senior advocate Sanjay Hegde that if the student wants to travel to Anantnag on Thursday, then the court order will be made available to him in an hour. In his petition, the student said he was unable to contact his parents since August 4, and contended that the information blackout and restrictions on movement of people was violation of fundamental rights granted under the Constitution.
The court orders came even as Attorney General KK Venugopal and Solicitor General Tushar Mehta asked the court to exercise restraint as far as orders and oral observations on Jammu and Kashmir were concerned. “The Article 370 issue has international and cross-border implications,” Venugopal told the court. “Whatever statements made here are sent to the United Nations.”
Jammu and Kashmir has been under an unprecedented lockdown since August 5, when the central government decided to revoke its special status and split it into two union territories. Thousands of troops have been deployed to prevent violence and protests in the region and communication lines have been cut in most parts.
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