"The State of Jammu & Kashmir, keeping in mind the national interest and internal security, shall make all endeavours to ensure that normal life is restored inKashmir; people have access to healthcare facilities and schools, colleges and other educational institutions and public transport functions and operates normally. All forms of communication, subject to overriding consideration of national security, shall be normalized, if required on a selective basis, particularly for healthcare facilities"
The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre to make every effort to ensure that normalcy is restored in Jammu and Kashmir, by keeping in mind the interests of national security.
The Court asked the Attorney General to file an affidavit detailing the steps taken by the Centre to restore normalcy in the region.
The bench consisting of CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justices Bobde and Abdul Nazeer was hearing the petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Executive Editor of Kashmir Times, challenging the communication blackout and media curbs imposed in the region following the abrogation of special status of J&K.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Bhasin, submitted that the communication blackout was still continuing in the region.
Justice Bobde asked Grover why the petitioner cannot approach the J& K High Court. Grover said that it was difficult to approach the High Court as communication lines were not working.
The Attorney General submitted that there were no restrictions on publication of newspapers. Many newspapers are being published from the region, and the petitioner has voluntarily chosen to shut down, the AG said. When a terrorist was eliminated in 2016, the entire region went into a turmoil. the AG said.
Senior Advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for an individual, submitted that the daily life of an average Kashmiri resident has been made miserable. The government has spoken about opening up land lines. However, there are only one lakhs land line connections in the State. This translates as one line for hundred person. This is hardly sufficient to meet the needs of the people, submitted Arora.
AG said that the communication shut down was imposed out of security concerns. He said that terrorists and local militants were getting financial support from abroad, and even the Pakistan High Commission in Delhi. The AG said that when Burhan Wani was killed in 2016, the entire region went into turmoil.
In her petition, Ms. Bhasin had challenged the shutdown of communication services and curbs on media freedom that were imposed in Kashmir in the wake of abrogation of the state's special status.
Foundation for Media Professionals, headed by Paranjoy Guha Thakurta and Indian Journalists Union have intervened in the case supporting Bhasin's plea.
When the petition was listed on August 16, the Court had said that it will prefer to give some time to the Central Government to restore normalcy in J&K.
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