The bench of Justice NV Ramana, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai today reserved its judgment on communication blockade in the valley in the batch of petitions filed by Anuradha Bhasin, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Asifa Mubeen and others challenging the restrictions imposed in the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir in the wake of abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution of India.
The Court will pass a verdict on Anuradha Bhasin’s challenge on Monday.
The bench heard Senior Counsel Kapil Sibal, Vrinda Grover, Raju Ramchandran, Huzefa Ahmedi and Dushyant Dave argue vehemently for the petitioners, while the Attorney General pleaded the court and the parties to look at the broader picture – “instead of the nitty-gritties of law.”
Before asking the court to lay down principles to uphold democratic values for the “tomorrow”, Kapil Sibal informed the court that the Section144 order, which was passed for two months, had long lapsed but the curfew still existed by all practical means. He also stated that Section 144 was for purposes of public order, unlike Kashmir scenario, where reason argued in court is “national security.” Sibal emphasized that there cannot be a Sec-144 order for 7 million people.
Further, communication blockade on whatsapp could be conceded where the messages are end-to-end encrypted; regular websites, which are open to all, including the administration, should not have been banned.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for Kashmir Times Editor Anuradha Bhasin, argued that there has been no review committee to review the order passed blocking all telecommunication. An affidavit claim legitimacy of the orders cannot suffice. The order shows no application of mind.
While Anuradha Bhasin’s case will see a judgment on Monday, the apex Court will hear final arguments in Asifa Mubeen’s petition on illegal detention on Friday. SG Tushar Mehta has asked the case to be transferred to High Court.
Sitaram Yechury’s petition and others connected with Kashmir lockdown will be taken up by the court at a later date.
— India Legal Bureau