The Supreme Court today – Thursday, Sep 5 – said it will take up on September 16 the clutch of pleas, including that of Kashmir Times Editor, on alleged communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir.
The apex court however declined to entertain a separate plea by activist Tehseen Poonawalla’s against the communication blockades in the area. “What does he do? What are his antecedents? What is his link with J&K? Do you want us to ask all this?” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi asked.
Executive Editor of Kashmir Times Anuradha Bhasin told a bench headed by CJI Gogoi that even after a month of scrapping of Article 370, journalists were not allowed to move freely in the state.
However, the Centre told the Supreme Court that contrary to what Bhasin claims, a large number of newspapers are being published from Srinagar. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta also told the bench that all other newspaper are being published from all the three places — Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh.
Countering Bhasin, Mehta said that editors of Kashmir Times chose not to publish their newspaper. He said, “My concern is why she (Bhasin) chose not to publish her newspaper from Srinagar”.
Attorney General KK Venugopal told the top court that step by step relaxation was being allowed in Jammu and Kashmir.
The court declined to pass an order and put the matter for further consideration on Sep 16.
When the cpourt started hearing the matter, advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the journalist, submitted that the Editor-in-chief of Kashmir Times travelled to many parts of the state and according to him, the situation was such that media cannot work due to “communication restrictions”.
She said it was not clear as to on what basis there is a “communication blockade” which has resulted in the information blackout.
The advocate claimed that during the Editor-in-chief’s interaction with the people, one of the doctors spoke about the humanitarian medico-crisis.
The editor also alleged that it is difficult to travel beyond Srinagar and journalists are finding it difficult to report.
While she was making the submissions, some of the lawyers said they have filed a caveat in the matter and submitted that the petition of Bhasin was not maintainable.
However, the bench concluded the hearing in the matter by asking the parties to complete formalities of filing counter-affidavit and replies and posted the matter for final disposal on September 16.
On the writ petition filed by Congress activist and businessman Tehseen Poonawalla seeking removal of restrictions in Kashmir Valley the apex court made it clear that he can only make his stand clear as an intervener in the petition filed by Bhasin. The court said whatever grievances he has raised in the petition can be advanced during the hearing on September 16 by him as an intervener.