The Supreme Court on Thursday refused an urgent hearing on a plea filed seeking withdrawal of restrictions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir since August 4 in connection with the Centre’s decision to abrogate Article 370 and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories.
The plea, filed by social activist Tehseen Poonawalla had sought the withdrawal of curfew, blocking of phone lines, internet, news channels and other restrictions from Jammu and Kashmir.
The petition alleged that the state was witnessing undeclared curfew/restrictions, arbitrary arrests, shutdown of phone services and snapping of internet and blocking of cable TV having news channels. This amounts to suspension of Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution, he contended.
The plea said: “The actions taken by the Union of India pertains to gross abuse of its powers under law, whereby the people of the J&K are suffering on account of unwarranted imposition of undeclared curfew and further emergency like restrictions are being imposed under the garb of Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.”
The petition contends that this information regarding the lockdown has been confirmed by the fact that the citizens are barred from access to basic healthcare, educational institutions, banks, public offices, food-vegetables and ration supply establishments and all other basic necessities.
The plea claimed that the inhabitants are facing difficulties to access the basic day to day necessities particularly patients, children, women and infants who have literally been arrested in their own houses for no reason.
The plea also sought the “immediate release of political leaders from illegal custody”.
Political leaders of J-K including former chief ministers Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah are under house arrest since early Monday morning.
Jammu and Kashmir National Conference Chairman Farooq Abdullah also on Tuesday said that he was being “confined to his home” hours after Union Minister Amit Shah told the Lok Sabha that the senior politician “has neither been detained not arrested”.
Meanwhile, indefinite prohibitory orders were imposed on Thursday in Kargil, Drass and Sankoo areas of Jammu and Kashmir to maintain peace and tranquillity, the district administration said.
The Kargil District Administration also directed that schools and colleges in the area shall remain closed till further orders.
District Magistrate Baseer Ul Haq Choudhary directed that Section 144 of the CrPC that prohibits gathering of more than four people in one place, will not affect Medical and Health services or the Public Works Department.
The Kargil district had observed a shutdown to protest the scrapping of Article 370 and bifurcation of the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The call for the shutdown was given by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) Kargil, which met at the office of Kargil Council Chief Executive Councillor Feroz Ahmad Khan on Tuesday.
The Parliament on Tuesday approved a resolution to abrogate special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and pass a bill to split the state into two Union Territories – Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
Prior to that, a massive security build-up was witnessed in the valley with over 8000 additional paramilitary troops being airlifted to the state.
All educational institutions have been closed till further orders and all Kashmir University exams have been postponed without specifying the next date. Mobile internet services have been snapped.
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Thursday also declined to give an urgent hearing to a mentioning by advocate Manohar Lal Sharma, challenging the scrapping of provisions of Article 370.
A bench headed by Justice NV Ramana, declining the request to hear the matter urgently, said: “The matter would be placed before the appropriate bench, that is the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, for listing the matter.”
The PIL contends that the gazette notification regarding Article 370 and Article 35A was against the basic spirit of the Constitution and that the government acted in an arbitrary and unconstitutional manner.
The petition claims that the President’s order is unconstitutional and the Centre must take the parliamentary route.