No Supreme Court interim order on lifting of curbs in J&K

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Indian police check the identity of commuters in Jammu, India, Tuesday, Aug.6, 2019. India's lower house of Parliament was set to ratify a bill Tuesday that would downgrade the governance of India-administered, Muslim-majority Kashmir amid an indefinite security lockdown in the disputed Himalayan region. The Hindu nationalist-led government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi moved the "Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Bill" for a vote by the Lok Sahba a day after the measure was introduced alongside a presidential order dissolving a constitutional provision that gave Kashmiris exclusive, hereditary rights. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to pass any interim or immediate order on lifting of restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir, including restoring communication services, and said the Centre was free to take a call on the curbs given the sensitivity of the situation.

An apex court Bench, headed by Justice Arun Mishra, made the observation when the Centre submitted that it was doing everything necessary to maintain law and order in J&K.

The apex court said the Centre required time to restore normalcy as nothing could be done overnight and deferred for two weeks the hearing on a petition filed by Congress leader Tehseen Poonawalla, challenging the Centre’s decision to impose restrictions and “other regressive measures” in J&K.

Observing that it was a “serious issue”, the court said it would not interfere right now and let the government continue with its efforts to maintain law and order in the Valley.

Assuring the court that normalcy would be restored in the Valley in a few days, the Centre said during disturbances in 2016, 47 people had been killed but not a single person had died this time.

The government also informed the court it was reviewing the situation on a daily basis and was committed to ensure least human rights violations.

Last week, Article 370 of the Constitution, which allowed special status to J&K, was revoked and curfew was imposed to prevent untoward incidents in the state.

Poonawala had moved the apex court seeking withdrawal of curfew and other restrictions and restoration of education and health services.

When the court asked how long the curbs in Valley would continue, Attorney General (AG) K.K. Venugopal said the government was trying to ensure least inconvenience to the people and maintain the peace. He said the situation was highly sensitive.

Representing Poonawala, Maneka Guruswamy said such was the situation that nobody knew about the happenings there. If government’s intention was to make Kashmiris full citizens, then it could not impose such restrictions, she submitted.