If Govt's intention is to make Kashmiris full citizens, they can't restrict them totally: Menaka Guruswamy

Murali Krishnan August 13 2019
Menaka Guruswamy and KK Venugopal, Kashmir

The Supreme Court today agreed to keep the petition filed by Tehseen Poonawalla against the shutdown of services in Jammu & Kashmir pending. The matter will be listed after two weeks.

Appearing for Poonawalla, Senior Advocate Menaka Guruswamy asked the Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and MR Shah,

"Can there be a prohibition on communication of all sorts in Kashmir?"

In response, Justice Mishra said,

"There is a serious situation there. They might be apprehending law and order problems."

He proceeded to ask Attorney General KK Venugopal how long the Centre planned to impose the shutdown in the region. Venugopal said that the Centre is taking into account all relevant aspects. He further said that a similar situation back in 2016 took around three months to resolve. However, he said that the present situation might even be resolved in a few days, depending on the fact scenario.

"The situation is dynamic and changing every day. We are reviewing the situation and lifting restrictions step by step", submitted the AG.

Guruswamy then pleaded that at least hospitals, schools, and police stations be allowed to function. Responding to this plea, Justice MR Shah said,

"We have to give them (Centre) some time too. It is a serious situation."

AG Venugopal went on to submit that the Centre was committed to ensuring that human rights violations do not take place, and that there has not been even a single loss of life thus far.

At this point, Guruswamy suggested that the matter be taken up in two weeks. Justice Shah responded,

"Why should we keep it pending?"

"They cannot say no accountability. If their intention is to make Kashmiris full citizens, then they cant restrict them totally", Guruswamy argued.

The Bench then agreed to keep the matter pending, and decided to list it in two weeks' time. It did not pass any order today.

Poonawalla had filed the petition last week challenging the continued detention of political leaders, the undeclared curfew and shutdown of services in Jammu and Kashmir following the government's decision to scrap Article 370 of the Constitution.

In his petition, Poonawalla has made the following prayers:

  • Direct withdrawal of curfew/restrictions and all other regressive measures including blocking of phone lines, internet and news channels.
  • Immediately release all the political leaders who have been taken into illegal custody since August 4, 2019.
  • Appointment of  a judicial commission to visit Jammu & Kashmir and ascertain the ground situation and file a status report before the Supreme Court.

[Read Order]

Tehseen Poonawalla Kashmir August 13
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