Karnataka HC Defers Hearing Of Plea Against J&K Communication Blockade Citing Pendency Of Similar Case In SC

Karnataka HC Defers Hearing Of Plea Against J&K Communication Blockade Citing Pendency Of Similar Case In SC

The Karnataka High Court on Fridaydeferred adjudication on a plea filed a Kashmiri student challenging communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir, taking note of the fact that the petition filed by journalist Anuradha Bhasin in the Supreme Court substantially covers the larger issue of communication black out.

Justice Alok Aradhe passed the order while hearing a petition filed by a 23-year-old resident of Pulwama, who is now studying in Bengaluru. The matter has been adjourned till October.

Senior advocate Ravi Verma Kumar, appearing for the petitioner argued that "I am a resident of Pulwama and Citizen of India, thus he can enforce his Fundamental Rights, by coming to this court. There may be similar worded reliefs sought in the Supreme Court in other petitions, but I can inidvidually seek a prayer to quash the orders, before this court. This court is not lower to the Supreme Court and can hear the matter regarding violation of Fundamental Rights."

Further he said " Judicial review is possible of orders passed by authorities even the Parliament cannot suspend the process. This petition is not a Public Interest Litigation but purely personal."

The Union Government relied on an order passed by High Court of Jammu and Kashmir, which has rejected a petition challenging communication blockade and argued that "The prayer made is vague, there is no order by any authority which is under challenge. Moreover, petitions seeking similar relief is pending before the Supreme Court and thus petitioner can approach the Apex court by filing intervention application."

The counsel for Centre also argued that Karnataka High Court cannot entertain the petition on grounds of territorial jurisdiction as the cause of action has arose in Jammu and Kashmir. However, Justice Alok Aradhe countered the objection against territorial jurisdiction by saying that petitioner is in Bengaluru.

Further, Union government said since the landlines are restored in the Union Territory the petitioner be directed to use the same to get in touch with his family and thus his Rights would not be infringed.

As regards pending petitions before Apex court, Kumar argued that most of the petitions challenge the abrogation of Article 370, granting special status to the state. While the one filed by journalist Anuradha Bhasin is in respect of Freedom of Press.

The petitioner said that he hails from Pulwama and since August 5, an unprecedented and total communication blackout is prevailing in all districts of Kashmir. This opaque, unreasonable decision by the Union government has resulted in the petitioner being separated from his family and loved ones in an illegal and arbitrary manner. The legal basis for this communication blackout is not available in public domain, contended the petitioner.

The plea says that communication blockade in Kashmir has deprived the petitioner of his rights to acquire information about the well being of his family. The right to receive information is an integral part of Article 19 (1) (a). The communication blockade in Kashmir does not qualify as a reasonable restrictions under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution of India.

The plea prayed for by way of interim relief directions to authorities to produce all relevant orders, notices, or circulars issued by authorities under which suspension or shut down of communication in Kashmir was ordered.