CJI tags national interest rider for normal life in Jammu and Kashmir

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir authorities to ensure that normal life is restored ‘selectively’ in Jammu and Kashmir at the earliest. Of course, this should be done while keeping in mind the ‘national interests’.

Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, meanwhile, said he may personally visit Jammu and Kashmir to see whether litigants were facing any real difficulty in approaching the courts. He has also sought a report from the chief justice of the J&K High Court on this aspect.

"If required, I will go and personally check," remarked the CJI, when a submission was made before the bench that there were difficulties in approaching the High Court.

Gogoi was responding replying to senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi, who had claimed that there were extreme difficulties in accessing the High Court under the alleged lockdown situation.

The advocate was arguing for child rights activists Enakshi Ganguly & Shanta Sinha, who moved the apex court through a petition challenging the illegal detention of children in Jammu and Kashmir following the abrogation of Article 370 and the reorganization of the erstwhile state.

The bench of the CJI and Justices S A Bobde and S. A. Nazeer was hearing an assortment of cases on the difficulties caused by the 48-day lockdown.

ARTICLE 370: The court also admitted a petition of the People's Conference of former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti challenging the abrogation of Article 370 tagged it with petitions already referred to a 5-judge Constitution Bench.

AZAD TO INTERACT WITH PUBLIC: The court also allowed Rajya Sabha Opposition leader and former J&K chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad to visit the State – permission for which was refused thrice by the authorities --and also asked him to interact with the residents, check their wellbeing and file a ground report.

He has been allowed to visit four districts of Srinagar, Jammu, Baramulla and Anantnag but with a warning not to indulge in any political activity. "He will not make any speeches or hold any public rally as per his own submissions.

"Issuing a list of orders on petitions related to abrogation of Article 370, the Bench also directed the Centre to ensure smooth functioning of schools, hospitals and public transport.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, apprising the court of the situation in the state, said, "Not a single bullet has been fired, there has been no loss of life" and the restrictions have been removed in over 88% police stations in Kashmir division.

The Bench asked the attorney general to give details of steps taken by the government on an affidavit when he contested a local editor's claim of the media unable to function due to various curbs, claiming that all Kashmir-based newspapers were being published and the government is offering all kinds of assistance.

When the court said the Centre should make healthcare facilities accessible, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta read out a detailed report on the functioning of outpatient departments (OPD) and medical shops across the state. The petitioners had sought lifting of the restrictions imposed on communication.

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