Supreme Court allows Iltija Mufti to meet her mother Mehbooba

Iltija Mufti. File

Iltija Mufti. File  

Apex court, however, says she cannot move around in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Iltija Mufti to meet her detained mother, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, in Srinagar.

But when she asked the court’s permission to move around in Jammu and Kashmir, Chief Justice of India Ranjan (CJI) Gogoi orally remarked, “Why do you want to move around? It is very cold in Srinagar”. However, the court later recorded that she could move the district authorities for permission to move around.

The top judge did not pay heed to the government’s insistent pleas that Ms. Iltija Mufti had no business moving the “august forum” of the Supreme Court. 

The Centre said she should have ideally gone to the local District Magistrate for permission to meet her mother.

Ms. Mehbooba Mufti, a PDP leader, has been under detention along with several others since August 5 in the backdrop of the dilution of provisions of Article 370, the ensuing curfew and bifurcation of the State into Union Territories. The Valley has been in a state of lockdown for the past one month.

Attorney General K.K. Venugopal said Ms. Mehbooba Mufti’s mother and sister had met her after taking permission from the magistrate. “Why should she [Iltija] come here now” Mr. Venugopal asked. 

‘Ostensible purpose’ 

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said there may be something more to Ms. Iltija Mufti’s appeal than the “ostensible purpose’ to meet her mother. But the CJI stopped him short, saying “it is her privilege to move this forum... Are you going to prevent her from meeting her mother?”

Ms. Iltija Mufti said she was not permitted to leave her house in Srinagar from August 5 to August 22 by the authorities. “There was a chilling effect on my movement,” senior lawyer Nitya Ramakrishna for Ms. Iltija Mufti submitted.

Finally, the court gave Ms. Iltija Mufti, who is now in Chennai, permission to return to Srinagar at a time of her choice to meet her mother in private. 

The court recorded the government’s assurance that it would “not prevent” her from doing this. 

The court further ordered that CPI(M) leader M.Y. Tarigami be flown to Delhi from Srinagar for treatment in the AIIMS.

The order follows a petition filed by party general secretary Sitaram Yechury, who visited Mr. Tarigami, also under detention, in his hometown in the Valley. Mr. Yechury, however, said he would still pursue his case against the curfew and restrictions in the Supreme Court. The court issued notice to the government in this regard and asked the latter to respond in a week.


Communication blockade

The court heard Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times, who said the communication blockade continued unabated even after 31 days.

Senior lawyer Vrinda Grover, for Ms. Bhasin, demanded the government to produce the order or notification by which it had shut down mobile and Internet services.

“What are journalists and the media supposed to do here to report on Kashmir with freedom and fairness?” Ms. Grover argued in an impassioned manner.

She referred to an incident of how a doctor was detained for seeking better medical amenities. 

Mr. Mehta immediately countered that this was “factually incorrect”.

A lawyer from Jammu and Kashmir said the “people there are suffocating. There is no access to hospitals and no means of transportation”.

Mr. Venugopal said the claim about lack of access to hospitals was totally wrong.

“Seven lakh patients have accessed hospitals during this period. Major surgeries were held in 4,334 cases and minor surgeries were conducted on 44,236 patients,” Mr. Venugopal countered.

He said restrictions had been eased on a “step-by-step” basis and 80% of land lines had been restored.

The court issued notice to the government and asked it to file its response in a week. It said all the petitions challenging the curfew and restrictions imposed in the Valley would be heard on September 16.

“We have fixed these petitions as early as possible on September 16. We have done the best we can... We may give some relief then, we don’t know...” the CJI observed. 

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 5:25:11 PM |

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