Shouldn’t jump the gun, Centre tells Supreme Court on petitions against Article 370

A special bench, comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices S A Bobde and S A Nazeer, washearing the petitions filed by advocate M L Sharma and journalist Anuradha Bhasin.

The Centre on Friday told the Supreme Court that the situation in Jammu and Kashmir will further improve over the next few days and the petitioners shouldn’t jump the gun to knock on the top court’s doors. Instead of the Supreme Court hearing petitions on the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, the government’s senior law officer Tushar Mehta said security agencies should be allowed to handle the situation. “Let security agencies be trusted,” Mehta said.

A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi noted that there had been some change in the situation.

“We would like to give it a little time. I have read in the papers that landlines will be restored by evening,” Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi observed. Justice SA Bobde, one of the two other judges on the bench, added that the landlines appeared to have already started working since he had received a call from the chief justice of the Jammu and Kashmir high court.

The judges were hearing a petition an editor of a valley-based newspaper Anuradha Bhasin who had red-flagged restrictions imposed on journalists in the Kashmir. She had sought directions to restore all modes of communication, including mobile Internet and landline services, throughout the state to provide an enabling environment for the media to practise its profession. Her lawyer Vrinda Grover argued that it would help to restore normalcy in the Kashmir valley if journalists were allowed to travel.

The government has asked the top court to dismiss the petition by the Kashmir Times editor, outlined the Centre’s step-by-step approach to lift restrictions imposed in the state in light of the many intelligence reports about efforts to disrupt peace in the border state.

“Over the next few days, the situation will be settled,” Tushar Mehta said.

The Supreme Court, after hearing the government, decided to hear the plea on the restrictions on a later date along with a bunch of petitions challenging the government’s move to scrap Jammu and Kashmir’s special status.

Discontent has simmered in Kashmir since the early hours of August 5, when phone and Internet lines were suspended and restrictions on movement and assembly of people clamped. Later that day, the government moved to nullify Article 370, which accorded special status to Jammu & Kashmir, and bifurcate the state into two Union Territories – J&K with a legislative assembly, and Ladakh without one.

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