Jammu and Kashmir-Hong Kong parallel irks SC

New Delhi: ‘‘Is there cross-border terrorism in Hong Kong?" the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the counsel who sought to draw a parallel between Kashmir and Hong Kong, which is facing unprecedented pro-democracy protests for over five months.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, who is representing an intervenor in a matter connected with restrictions in Jammu and Kashmir following revocation of Article 370, cited before a bench headed by Justice N.V.

Ramana the Hong Kong court's recent decision against a law banning face masks. Arora sought to draw a parallel between the restrictions imposed on people in Kashmir and Hong Kong.

She told the bench that in the Hong Kong judgement, the test of proportionality was applied. Justice Ramana replied that the Indian Supreme Court is far superior in upholding fundamental rights of citizens.

Justice B.R. Gavai, who is also on the bench, while querying Arora in the backdrop of protests in Hong Kong, said, "Is there cross-border terrorism in Hong Kong?"

Justice Gavai insisted that the apex court has delivered several orders upholding rights of the citizens, "Why then bank on Hong Kong judgement?" Justice Ramana also said the top court has a long tradition of upholding rights of the citizens.

But Arora pleaded that a large Army deployment in Jammu and Kashmir leads to the creation of an "inert citizen", which is not in the interest of democracy, as this citizen behaves with fear on his mind. "For people to speak out, they should be fearless", she insisted while referring to the psychological and physical restraints. "The people of Jammu and Kashmir were worst affected by abrogation of Article 370. They should have been allowed to air their views", she told the court. The Hong Kong High Court had recently ruled that a ban on wearing face masks during public demonstrations was unconstitutional. --IANS

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