[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the central government and state of Jammu and Kashmir on a petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Kashmir Times editor, seeking lifting of restrictions on journalists after the state was stripped of its special status and statehood.
The court has asked both the central government and Jammu and Kashmir government to respond to the petition within seven days.
The plea has requested court for directions to the State for creating an enabling environment for the media persons in all parts of Jammu and Kashmir to practice their profession without any hindrance.
The petition demanded that debilitating restrictions imposed through the complete shutdown of internet and telecommunication services coupled with severe curbs on the movement of photo-journalists and reporters, be immediately relaxed to ensure the freedom of the press and media.
The petitioner, represented by her lawyers Vrinda Grover, Soutik Banerjee, Prasanna S and RatnaAppnender said the editor has not been able to print and publish the Kashmir edition of her daily as the absolute restrictions on all communication services and movement had resulted in the imposition of a virtual blackout on media activities in Kashmir.
This comes at a time when significant political and constitutional changes are being undertaken in Delhi regarding the status of Jammu and Kashmir. The blackout on information is fuelling anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of the Kashmir.
“This petition has been filed as information blackout set in motion is a direct and grave violation of the right of the people to know about the decisions that directly impact their lives and their future,” the petitioner remarked.
The petitioner has also sought directions to the Jammu and Kashmir government to relax restrictions to allow free reporting on the prevailing situation in the state after the clampdown of August 4.
The petition stated that the restrictions curb the rights of journalists given under Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India and the right to know the conditions of residents of Kashmir valley.
The court has also issued notice on a PIL filed by Tehseen Poonawalla seeking the withdrawal of curfew and other restrictions, including blocking of phone lines, internet and news channels in Jammu and Kashmir in the aftermath of the President’s order abrogating the special status accorded to Jammu and Kashmir.
Poonawalla has also prayed for the immediate release of all political leaders who have been taken into illegal custody since August 4, 2019.
He has requested the court to appoint a judicial commission to visit the newly carved union territory, ascertain the ground situation and file a status report before the apex court.
Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora represented Poonawalla in the court.
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