SC refuses to intervene after govt assurance

Govt trying to maintain law and order with least inconvenience: Venugopal Fundamental rights of citizens can be restricted but not prohibited: Petitioner

"Present situation in J&K was "very sensitive" and some time should be given for bringing back normalcy in the region," SC said.
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to ease the communication ban and lift other restrictions on movement of people in J&K for essential services such as hospitals, police stations, etc after the government assured that the situation was being “reviewed” daily and the curbs would be eased as soon as the situation becomes “normal on the ground.”

The SC will now deal with the case two weeks from now giving the central government a “reasonable” time to restore normalcy in the state. “The government must get reasonable time to restore normalcy,” Justice Arun Mishra said adjourning the case for now.

The court was dealing with a petition filed by activist Tehseen Poonawalla regarding the complete suspension of the fundamental rights of the people of Kashmir in the wake of the central government’s decision to take away the status of ‘state’ from J&K and make it a Union Territory.

Internet services have been completely shut down and prohibitive orders have been issued in many districts anticipating trouble from “separatists”. Poonawalla’s case was argued in court by senior advocate Maneka Guruswamy. She argued that the common man in the state was being subjected to incredible hardship and cannot even reach a hospital. She argued for exempting basic essential services from the scope of the blanket ban on communication. Fundamental rights of citizens can be restricted but not prohibited, she argued.

But the bench, comprising Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and Ajay Rastogi, insisted that the court was “not aware of the real situation on the ground though it was with the petitioner on human rights and liberties.”

“There is a serious situation in the state. The government apprehends a law and order problem,” Justice Mishra said, refusing to interfere for now with the curbs.

Before doing so, the court sought the opinion of the government. “These (internet, phones, etc) facilities are essential these days. How long will you continue with this?” the court asked the Attorney General.

AG KK Venugopal said the government was trying to maintain law and order in the state with least inconvenience to the people of the state. So far, there has been no loss of life in the state, he said. He cited the earlier experience to claim that the separatist violence in the state had claimed 44,000 people since 1991. “Thegovernment is trying to restore normalcy with the least amount of inconvenience to the people, the least amount of human right violations,” he said. “It will take a few days. The government is reviewing the situation daily, which is dynamic. The restrictions will be lifted stage by stage,” he said.

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