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We would like to give little time: SC on plea seeking removal of restrictions on media in J-K

During the hearing, the Centre told the apex court that the situation is improving in Jammu and Kashmir and the curbs are being lifted gradually.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 16, 2019, 01.39 PM IST
The Supreme Court of India (File Pic)
NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi on Friday refused to intervene to lift a communication blockade in Jammu and Kashmir after the government assured the court that the restrictions were being lifted as and when the situation warranted and things would settle down in the next few days.

The Chief Justice, sitting on a three judge bench, referred to newspaper reports to claim that the curbs on landlines and broadband would go by the evening today. "Let's give it a bit of time," he said. Next in line to be Chief Justice, S A Bobde pointed that the J&K High court chief justice had called him in the morning via a land line.

Petitioner in this case Anuradha Bhasin, executive editor, of Kashmir Times, had objected to the communication lock down on the ground and asserted that it affected the freedom of the press. She had also objected to the restrictions on media to move around.

Bhasin's lawyer Vrinda Grover argued that only few land lines were working when justice Bobde said that he had received a call. She urged the court to lift the communication restrictions in Kashmir to allow the media to work. She also urged the court to allow journalists the freedom to move if they carried the necessary identity proofs.

The CJI then sought the views of the government on the issue. Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the restrictions in the state were being lifted on a day to day basis. Things will settle down in the next few days, he said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta urged the court to dismiss the petition. These are security issues, he said, best left to the government.

But the Chief Justice kept it pending for another day when this petition along with one filed by lawyer Manoharlal Sharma challenging the manner in which the government reduced article 370 of the constitution to a shell will be taken up. These will be taken up later, the CJI said, without specifying a date.

At least 6 petitions have been filed in the court against the government's move to change J&K's status from a state to a union territory. One of them has been filed by National Conference members Muhammed Akbar Lone and Justice (retired) Hasnain Masoodi. The court will have to examine all these petitions.
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