A day after the Srinagar police detained women activists including former chief minister Farooq Abdullah's sister and daughter during a march, Supreme Court on Wednesday questioned the Centre's failure to place on record all orders pertaining to the shutdown and restrictions in Kashmir following the scrapping of the Valley's special status under Article 370 of the Constitution.
The three-Judge Bench of Justices NV Ramana with R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai questioned the Government's reluctance to produce orders on the restrictions imposed on Jammu and Kashmir.
"Is it done purposefully?" the Court asked Solicitor General Tushaar Mehta.
The SG told the Court that Centre had filed a rejoinder on October 1, the first date of hearing for the petitions filed by several concerned parties including Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin. However Bhasin's counsel advocate Vrinda Grover countered that the government's rejoinder still had not touched upon the orders imposing restrictions. The argument was also pointed out in Bhasin's rejoinder filed October 14, this year.
Citing a "change in circumstances", the SG argued that the petitioner had expanded the scope of their prayers, which originally pleaded for a cessation on the curbs -- communication and press -- placed on the Valley. The Centre sought time to produce the detention orders and update the previously filed affidavit.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the petition originally prayed only for the lifting of the curbs in the region. The situation on ground is changing gradually. The petitioner has now expanded the scope of the prayer to seek production of the orders also, Mehta argued.
Bhasin's counsel objected and stated that the production of the detention orders was the first step towards examining the validity of the Centre's decisions. The Court agreed.
However, the SG countered, reaffirming the Centre's willingness to place the detention orders on record. However, he added, "nobody can seek an appeal on executive orders concerning the National Security, especially not the Petitioners."
The remark was met by a swift interjection by Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, who countered that the petitioners were not "sitting in appeal on administrative orders but we can tell the Court that the material you have placed is inadequate."
Upon hearing all parties, the court ordered Centre to put on record all the orders relating to shutdown and detention in Kashmir. The bench further directed the Centre to file its reasons for the orders for not placing any order on record.
The court told counsels that it could listen to the matters after October 22.
"We will hear it after October 22. We have listed Karnataka MLA matter then."
Dave countered that the present matters were "far more serious."
The next date of hearing was fixed for October 25.
On Tuesday, women protesting in Srinagar against the withdrawal of special status to Jammu and Kashmir and its split into two union territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh were detained by police.