The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to respond to a petition filed by CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury challenging detention of his party colleague Mohammed Yousuf Tarigami in Kashmir.
The Centre's response was sought by a three-judge bench, headed by Justice N.V. Ramana.
The court ordered so after much insistence by Yechury's counsel senior advocate Raju Ramchandran. "Let them justify their actions," he said, speaking of the government.
The bench agreed to consider the matter and directed the Centre to file its reply. The petition will come up in due course, court said.
Now being colloquially called the 'Kashmir bench', the bench of Justices Ramana, B.R. Gavai, R. Subhash Reddy was constituted by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Monday. It has been designated to hear all matters related to the Valley since the abrogation of Article 370 on August 5.
The court, which sat for the first time on Tuesday, earlier in the day tested Yechury's resolve by advising his counsel to approach the J&K High Court to pursue his matter.
Yechury's counsel Senior Advocate Raju Ramachandran strongly opposed the suggestion.
"Assuming the detention is illegal, what is it that you want?" Justice Ramana questioned Ramachandran.
"I want a declaration that the detention is illegal. I do not care about compensation," the senior advocate immediately responded.
Ramachandran also cited the apex court's prior order in which the CJI bench had kept the matter open to hear the plea.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta informed the bench that Yechury's had become infructuous as Tarigami had also filed a petition in the top court, challenging government decision to abrogate Article 370 in J&K.
However, during the hearing, the court observed that Jammu and Kashmir High Court is functioning well and petitioners, challenging restrictions imposed in the state, should approach the HC, instead of filing petitions directly in top court.
The court also said that everyone can approach the High Court, which is an additional advantage.
The court also opined that pursuing these matters will set a presumption that high court is not functioning properly, which is not correct.
Yechury had earlier gone to meet Tarigami in Srinagar and found that his movements were restricted and the latter's security vehicles had been withdrawn. He had later told the top court that Tarigami was suffering from various ailments but was not allowed to visit the hospital.
Thereafter, the court, on September 5, directed shifting of Tarigami to AIIMS.
On Tuesday, the bench directed National Conference member Sameer Kaul to approach Jammu and Kashmir High Court over his plea seeking relaxation of Internet service in hospitals.
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