The Supreme Court on Thursday said some people are bound to suffer when restrictions are imposed to maintain peace, Hindustan Times reported. The top court was hearing a petition on the legality of the restrictions on movement and communications imposed in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of its special status under Article 370 of the Constitution in August.
A three-judge bench headed by Justice NV Ramana and also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai heard the arguments made by advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad. “There cannot be any doubt that in a situation like this, there will be difficulties for many,” Justice Reddy said. “There are situations when people living in areas under curfew suffer. These problems will be there. Some people will suffer.”
Sibal questioned the restrictions imposed in the Valley and argued that they should be subjected to judicial review. “There are intelligence inputs based on which restrictions can be placed,” Gavai told the court, according to Bar and Bench. The court asked Azad if the authorities should have waited for “riots to take place” before imposing restrictions. “In an issue like this, why can’t apprehension be there that the entire area or the place may be disturbed,” the court said, according to PTI.
Sibal said assuming that there is material, the state still has to protect fundamental rights. He questioned the basis on which the government can assume that the entire population of the region would be against its decision. “In the 10 districts of the Valley, was it necessary to paralyse seven million people like this,” he said. “They have to show the materials. Here, we are not talking about rights of people of Jammu and Kashmir. We are talking about rights of people of India.”
The court responded to Sibal saying that authorities cannot impose Section 144 if this were the case.
“Stopping me at the airport, not allowing me to carry on my trade, not allowing me to go to hospital are all unreasonable restrictions,” Sibal said. He stressed that large-scale restrictions under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure were “constitutionally impermissible”. “Under what provision of law can they shut down everything, no 2G, 3G, 4G, no transport,” he asked the judges. “They cannot do that under Section 144, not even under Article 19(2).”
He added that cross-border terrorism has existed since the 1990s, and it was no reason to take away the fundamental rights of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir has suffered an economic loss of Rs 10,000 crore due to the restrictions imposed, Sibal claimed.
The arguments in the case will be next heard on November 14.
India had on August 5 rescinded the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution, paving the way for the creation of the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. These came into existence on October 31. A report in The Hindu on Tuesday cited data to say that around 6,300 people, including politicians, had been rounded up in the last three months.
Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.