Supreme Court to hear pleas on Centre’s Jammu and Kashmir moves on August 16

The Supreme Court in New Delhi. File

The Supreme Court in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: THE HINDU

A Special Bench will hear pleas against information blackout and restrictions imposed on media freedom and the August 5 notification of the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order.

A three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi is scheduled to hear on August 16 a petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times, against the information blackout and restrictions imposed on media freedom during the Centre’s “unilateral” move to impose curfew and divide Jammu and Kashmir “without taking consent from the people”.

The Special Bench, comprising Justices S.A. Bobde and S. Abdul Nazeer besides the CJI, would also hear a writ petition filed by Supreme Court advocate M.L. Sharma challenging the August 5 notification of the Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 2019, which amends Article 370 of the Indian Constitution and replaces its 65-year-old predecessor The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order of 1954, as “unconstitutional, illegal and arbitrary”.

Mr. Sharma said his petition refers to how the political leaders of J&K were detained/arrested before the issuance of the August 5 notification. There was no meaningful legislative or representative debate, the petitioner submitted.

Ms. Bhasin, whose newspaper is published from Jammu and Srinagar, said the Centre should relax its restrictions and allow journalists “to practice their profession and exercise their right to report freely on the situation prevailing in J&K after the clampdown on entire State on August 4, 2019”.

Represented by advocate Vrinda Grover, Ms. Bhasin described the ground situation as that of “absolute and complete Internet and telecommunications shutdown, severe restrictions on mobility and sweeping curtailment on information sharing in the Kashmir Valley, at a time when significant political and constitutional changes are being undertaken in Delhi to the status of J&K”.


Contending that the information blackout was “fuelling anxiety, panic, alarm, insecurity and fear among the residents of the Kashmir,” Ms. Bhasin sought the immediate relaxation of the ‘severe curbs’ on the movement of photojournalists and reporters in order to ensure the freedom of the press and media.

She said the current restrictions were curbing the rights of journalists under the provisions of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution and the right to know the conditions of residents of the Kashmir Valley.

“From August 4, 2019, onwards, mobile phone networks, Internet services, and landline phone connectivity were all discontinued and shut down, leaving Kashmir and some districts in Jammu completely isolated and cut off from all possible modes of communication and information. The communication blockade and strict restrictions on movement of journalists resulted in a virtual blackout, and media reporting and publishing is grievously impacted,” she submitted.

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Printable version | Feb 24, 2020 11:31:00 AM |

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