Supreme Court defers PIL seeking withdrawal of curfew and other restrictions in the Valley

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to pass any order in a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) filed by Tehseen Poonawalla seeking withdrawal of curfew and blocking of phone lines, internet and news channels in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K).

The court observed that more time should be given to the Central Government to restore normalcy in the state and chose to defer the hearing for two weeks.

“Nobody knows what is happening in J&K. Government must be having some inputs. Somebody has to rely on the Government,” Justice M R Shah observed.

In response to a query posed by Justice Mishra, Attorney General (AG) K K Venugopal informed the court that the Central Government is reviewing the situation on a daily basis and normalcy might return in few days depending on the situation. However, he also added that it took three months to tackle a similar situation in 2016.

Appearing for the petitioner, senior advocate Menaka Guruswamy said there could not be a complete prohibition on communication in the valley. Even soldiers were not able to communicate with their family members.

The petitioner asserted that imposing undeclared curfew, arbitrary arrests, shutdown of phone services and the snapping of internet and cable news networks amounted to a suspension of Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioner has also prayed for the immediate release of all political leaders who have been put under house arrest. He has also requested the court to appoint a judicial commission to ascertain the ground situation and file a status report before the apex court.

“Arrest of separatist leaders is totally justifiable but meting out the same treatment and arresting mainstream political leaders who have fought for the integration of Jammu and Kashmir along with Union of India is highly questionable,” Poonawalla said in his petition.

On August 5, the President issued “The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019” which rendered Article 370, granting special status to Jammu and Kashmir, redundant.


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