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Wednesday 8 April 2020

Tehseen Poonawalla in SC: Restrictions in J&K ‘regressive’

The Congress activist has pleaded before the Supreme Court that he is not expressing a view on Article 370 but he seeks withdrawal of restrictions on the people of Jammu and Kashmir

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear on Tuesday a plea challenging the Centre’s decision to impose restrictions and “other regressive measures” in Jammu and Kashmir following the revocation of the provisions of Article 370. Congress activist Tehseen Poonawalla has filed the plea. It is listed for hearing before a bench comprising Justices Arun Mishra, MR Shah and Ajay Rastogi.

Besides, a separate petition filed by Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor of Kashmir Times, seeking the removal of restrictions imposed on working of journalists in the state after the scrapping of provisions of Article 370, is likely to be mentioned for urgent listing in the apex court.

Tehseen Poonawalla has said he is not expressing any opinion on Article 370 but seeking withdrawal of ‘curfew/ restrictions’ and other alleged regressive measures including blocking of phone lines, Internet and news channels in Jammu and Kashmir. He has sought a direction from the top court for the release of leaders like former chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti, who are under detention.

Tehseen Poonawalla has further sought setting up of a judicial commission to inquire into ground realities there. The activist has claimed that the decisions that have been taken by the Centre violate fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 and 21 of the Constitution.

“The inhabitants of the state of Jammu and Kashmir are suffering on account of unwarranted imposition of curfew and/ or restrictions under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, preventive arrests, snapping of phone lines, suspension of internet services, media gag,barred access to healthcare, educational institutions, banks, public offices, shops and establishments and all other basic amenities,” the plea said.

The entire state is under virtual cordon and “has been converted into a garrison by increasing the number of troopers on an everyday basis when in fact there has been no news of any organised/violent protests against the constitutional amendments or for any other reason”, Tehseen Poonawalla’s plea read. “Arrest of separatist leaders may be totally justifiable but meeting out the same treatment to mainstream political workers who have given their blood and sweat for the integration of (the) state with Union of India is highly questionable and deserves to be condemned,” his plea said.

Tehseen Poonawalla has sought quashing of orders imposing indefinite curfew/ restrictions, arbitrary arrests, the shutdown of phone services and snapping of internet.

The petitioner has sought direction to the Centre for appointing a judicial commission to visit and ascertain the ground situation in the state and file a status report before the court.

Besides the petitions filed by Poonawalla and Bhasin, the National Conference (NC) has moved the apex court challenging the changes made in the ‘constitutional status’ of Jammu and Kashmir, contending that these have taken away rights of its citizens without their mandate. The petition has been filed by Mohammad Akbar Lone and Justice (retd) Hasnain Masoodi, both Lok Sabha members belonging to the NC.

Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma has filed yet another plea challenging the presidential order on Article 370 that revoked Jammu and Kashmir’s special status. President Ram Nath Kovind declared the abrogation of provisions of Article 370 of the Constitution, which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir. Parliament had approved a resolution abrogating special status to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Constitution and a bill for splitting the state into two union territories.

The resolution and the bill were approved by Rajya Sabha also.

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