[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court on Wednesday pulled up Jammu and Kashmir Government for its failure to place before it orders and circulars pertaining to the prevailing communications shutdown in the state following August 5 government’s decision to revoke its special status.
The court was hearing a plea filed by Kashmir Times editor, Anuradha Bhasin, seeking direction to Center and the state to lift “debilitating restrictions” imposed through communications blackout coupled with severe curbs on the movement of journalists in the troubled region.
Earlier, Bhasin in a rejoinder affidavit had sought a direction to J&K administration to produce the orders under which the communications gag was imposed in the region. She had also accused the Jammu and Kashmir administration of suppressing relevant orders and notifications under which the communications gag was imposed in the region.
Appearing for the state of J&K, Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta told a three-judge bench comprising Justices NV Ramana, Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai that he had filed a rejoinder affidavit when the matter was taken up the for hearing previously.
Advocate Vrinda Grover appearing for the Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin countered the SG, saying that the government’s rejoinder still had not touched upon the orders imposing restrictions. This fact also finds mention in the rejoinder affidavit filed by the petitioner.
“The orders whereby restrictions have been imposed not made available even to the court,” said Grover.
The Bench then asked the SG whether the orders had not been placed on record purposefully. The Solicitor General, in response, told the court that the petition originally prayed only for the lifting of the curbs in the Valley. The situation on ground is changing gradually. The petitioner has now expanded the scope of the prayer to seek production of the orders also.
Grover on the other hand vehemently objected to this submission of the SG Mehta. She turned to the first prayer made in the petition filed by Bhasin which seeks copies of orders whereby all modes of communications either been shutdown or suspended. The judges agreed to this submission of Grover.
“We will place on record these orders but nobody can seek an appeal on executive orders concerning the national security, especially not the petitioners”, said the SG Mehta
The court has now asked the Centre and J&K Government to place on record all the orders relating to communications shutdown in J&K.
“In case, the government wishes to not make those orders available to the court, it should give reasons for the same. An affidavit detailing the reasons to this effect is to be filed before the court,” the court observed.
Now the matter will be heard on October 25, 2019