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Supreme Court to rule on legality of J&K restrictions today

On guard: Security personnel setting up a road block after the arrival of 16 envoys from foreign countries in Srinagar on Thursday.

On guard: Security personnel setting up a road block after the arrival of 16 envoys from foreign countries in Srinagar on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

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Petition said the restrictions crippled essential services and communications

The Supreme Court will on January 10 pronounce its verdict on the legality of the restrictions on the fundamental freedom of movement and the shut-down of communications in Jammu and Kashmir since August 5 last.

 

The judgment is authored by Justice N.V. Ramana.

The clamp-down followed the revocation of the special right and privileges enjoyed by the Kashmiri people under Article 370 and the bifurcation of the erstwhile State into the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Anuradha Bhasin, the petitioner and Editor of The Kashmir Times, said the restrictions had crippled the freedom of the press, essential services and even communications between families, bringing untold miseries to the people. A pall of suspicion was cast on the entire seven million people, who lived in a state of imprisonment. Restrictive orders under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.PC) were issued without application of mind, she said.

However, before a three-judge Bench led by Justice Ramana, the Jammu and Kashmir government had maintained that normalcy had returned to the Valley and the people were happy. The government dismissed Ms. Bhasin’s claims as mere hyperbole.

Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta, for the Jammu and Kashmir government, had claimed that the authorities acted on heaps of material, including intelligence and military, about inflammatory material and speeches, circulation of fake news, morphed images and videos spread on social media.

The court’s view on the right to access to the Internet, especially when its restriction affects livelihood, needs to be seen.

Mr. Mehta had acknowledged that access to Internet was, indeed, a part of the fundamental right to free speech, but warned that “modern terrorism relies heavily on the Internet”. On the last day of the hearing, Mr. Mehta had justified that “terror views social media as its most effective weapon. Terror is global”. “So is human rights,” senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, for Ms. Bhasin, had retorted immediately.

Watch | Tight curbs on Internet in J&K offices
 

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 10:41:19 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article-370-supreme-court-to-pass-verdicts-on-pleas-challenging-curbs-in-j-k-tomorrow/article30524952.ece

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