The lockdown on including the internet and transportation in Kashmir had serious consequences on healthcare of the Valley's citizens, the Supreme Court was told on Tuesday.
"Access to medical care is in Srinagar, and can't be accessed by people coming from far-off districts," senior advocate Meenakshi Arora submitted before a three-judge bench headed by Justices NV Ramana, R Subash Reddy and BR Gavai.
The Internet shut down had adversely affected citizens as "health schemes including the Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, are linked to the Internet," the senior advocate added.
However, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the top court all such claims were incorrect and misleading. "They are being said for something else, which I don't want to say now," he said.
Speaking on behalf of Jammu and Kashmir government, the SG submitted that over 16 lakh had accessed out-patient services since the August 5 Presidential order scrapping J&K's special status.
The Centre's supporting affidavit, filed in Kashmir Times editor Anuradha Bhasin's petition, states that 16,54, 106 OPD treatments to people and 15, 768 major surgeries had taken place in J&K's government hospitals since August 5. The affidavit even listed 95, 756 dental procedures had taken place after the Presidential Order.
Unconvinced in court, Arora pointed out that the figures were not independently verified, adding that there was no comparison for these statistics prior to August 5.
In a headed first hearing on several petitions on the issue of lack of access to basic facilities, the court directed Centre to file its affidavit.
During the hearings, the top court declined to hear a petition filed by Dr. Sumer Kaul citing the lack of access to hospitals in the Valley.
"The J&K High Court is in a better position to decide this matter," said Justice Ramana.
On Monday, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi ordered all petitions related to J&K bifurcation and the state of its citizens would be shifted due to lack of time. The 'Kashmir Bench' sat for the first time on Tuesday, hearing a slew of petitions ranging from validity of the Presidential Order, curbs on press freedom, to illegal detention of juveniles in the Valley.